The week of April 11-17th marked the 5th year of National Black Maternal Health Week, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the crisis in the US around the significant and alarming disparities in pre- and post-natal outcomes for Black women and their infants. It was founded and led by the Black Mammas Matter Alliance, and was officially recognized by the White House in 2021. As a leader in Mecklenburg County in improving maternal and child health, Care Ring participated in several activities designed to amplify the week's messages and advance solutions.
Executive Director Tchernavia Montgomery spoke as a subject matter expert in a panel discussion hosted by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, PhD. In addition to talking about how Care Ring's Nurse-Family Partnership and A Guided Journey programs are making a difference for Black mothers and their children, she also shared her own personal story of
being a first-time mother at the young age of 14. Pointing to one of the more disturbing statistics for our area, she said, “Why is it that my child in my beloved county is five times more likely to die in his first year of life as compared with other races?”
Several news outlets did stories about the panel and Black Maternal Health Week. WCNC reporter Chloe Leshner interviewed Tchernavia. We are also appreciative of these outlets for their coverage of the week's crucial messages: Cardinal & Pine, WRAL, and NC Policy Watch.
Care Ring also conducted a social media campaign to bring attention to the crisis, sharing important facts about Black maternal child health outcomes across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
We also brought awareness to how our Nurse-Family Partnership program is achieving better outcomes for mothers and children in our program. In addition to closely monitoring the health of mom and baby over the 2+ years of service to a family, our NFP Nurses teach and empower mothers to advocate for their health and for the health and well-being of their children. Not being listened to by healthcare professionals is listed as one of the key factors in poorer outcomes for Black mothers, so having the knowledge and advocacy training by our nurses is extremely critical, in addition to the extra support and connection to important resources we provide.
To cap off the week's activities, our new Director of Maternal Child Health, Sherresa Falls, participated in an awareness walk at Freedom Park hosted by the Mecklenburg County Public Health's Improving Community Outcomes For Maternal and Child Health initiative. The goals of the walk were to:
- support optimal health of black mamas;
- recognize those who have had challenging maternal experiences;
- and remember black mamas and babies who have lost their lives prenatal or postpartum.