The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Birth Equity Project is a community grants program. It was developed to invest in community-led programs and initiatives that improve birth outcomes for Black, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native infants and their caregivers.
Why Birth Equity?
Perinatal health, birth outcomes, and infant mortality rates in a population are deeply connected to the quality of medical care access, health status, and public health policies and practices. Social, economic, environmental, and political conditions also impact perinatal health.
In 2019, Washington state’s Native American/Alaska Native population had the highest infant mortality rate, at 10.3 per 1,000 live births. The Non-Hispanic (NH) Black/African American communities had infant mortality rates of 9.3 per 1,000 live births and the Pacific Islander population at 6.8 per 1,000 live births. The 2019 infant mortality rate for white populations was 4.1 per 1,000 live births. These disparities have been relatively constant over the past two decades in Washington and are linked to a long history of racism and inequitable institutional and systemic practices in health systems.
DOH is working with four organizations implementing programs that help improve birth equity outcomes in Washington state.
Forks Community Hospital: Has focused on increasing prenatal and parenting supports for rural and tribal families. The hospital provides the Centering Pregnancy group prenatal program and prenatal yoga classes. Their Celebrating Families program focuses on pregnant and parenting families with substance use disorders. Forks has partnered with the Quileute, Hoh, and Makah tribes to offer these services to tribal families.
The Korean Woman’s Association (KWA): Has developed and implemented a Culturally Responsive Integrated and Strength-based Parenthood (CRISP) parenting class for Black/African American, and Pacific Islander families. KWA has partnered with organizations such as Greater Destiny COGIC, Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center, and Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Pierce County to offer these classes in Pierce County.
The Tulalip Tribe: Has launched the Family Spirit home visiting program, a tribal doula training program, and offered tribal lactation services training. The home visiting program provides high-risk prenatal and postpartum case management to parents in need.
Global Perinatal Services: Has expanded their services for Black birthing families in King County. These wraparound services include childbirth education classes, pre-and postnatal lactation education, doula services, and parent support groups.
Washington State Birth Equity Data
The following link contains Washington's birth dashboards. The birth dashboards present birth counts and rates, fertility patterns and maternal, and infant health characteristics in Washington state. Birth data are compiled from information on pregnancies and deliveries from birth certificates.
Below is a detailed overview of current birth data in Washington state.
Community Health Advisory Committee
The Birth Equity Project is funded through the Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant and the violence prevention and health literacy projects. These funds also support the Community Health Advisory Committee, composed of community representatives to guide program and funding decisions.
CHAC meeting schedule
- Spring 2023 (upcoming)
Birth Equity Work Around the State
- Maternal Mortality Review Panel
- Washington State Hospital Association
- Washington State Perinatal Collaborative
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Project
If you would like to learn more about birth equity work, contact Shanell.Brown@doh.wa.gov.