We are excited to announce that our Doula Program, offered in the Central and Northern Regions of Illinois, is expanding to serve even more women and families. Children’s Home & Aid doulas build a supportive relationship several weeks prior to birth so parents can practice advocating for themselves, asking questions, and receiving beneficial information. The doula helps parents with stress management, breastfeeding, problem solving skills and safety education. The cumulative effect of these efforts strengthens families and reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect. The family remains in the program until the child is 6-8 weeks old and then is referred to long-term home visiting services. The doula also gives insight as to what to expect at the hospital and each step of the way.

In our Central Region, the John M. Scott Health Care Trust recently approved grants totaling $1.243 million to 21 organizations in Bloomington-Normal through fiscal year 2022. Children’s Home & Aid is honored to be chosen as a $50,000 grant recipient as part of this health trust award.

This grant will fund a prenatal bonding clinician who will work with pregnant Doula Program participants during their first and second trimester. The clinician will focus on supporting mother and child attachment, while aiding new mothers during and after pregnancy. The clinician will also provide both individual and family therapy and support families who’ve experienced a pregnancy loss.

In our Northern Region, Children’s Home & Aid has received a $39,665 grant to expand our Doula Program in Rockford. The grant was awarded by the Dr. Louis & Violet Rubin Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ Community Grants Program. The program has served Winnebago County since 2016 and this grant will help expand the program and meet the overwhelming demand for doula services in Winnebago County.

Children’s Home & Aid’s Doula Program uses specially-trained home visitors (“doulas”) to provide support to high-risk young women before, during, and after pregnancy, increasing the health and well-being of both mother and child. The long-term goals of the project are to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect and to develop strong parent-child attachments to help mothers build healthy and safe futures for their babies.

The Doula Program reaches out to young mothers and fathers who would like support services and meets with expecting families on a weekly basis. The Public Health Department, doctors, schools and other community agencies refer parents to the Doula Program during pregnancy. It serves as a highly effective program in the deterrence of child abuse and neglect. Through positive, persistent, outreach services and in-home visits, vulnerable parents learn about pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.

There are numerous prenatal services offered within this program including: educational materials, emotional support, and activities to engage with baby in utero. During labor and delivery, a doula supports the mother and family in the hospital. The program prioritizes assisting with comfort measures and helping in understanding the benefits, risks, and alternatives to interventions and potential situations that can arise during labor. After the mother delivers her child, there are additional topics a doula can assist with such as feeding, safe sleep, SIDS, and transitioning home.

“This funding will make a huge difference for families who may not have previously had access to a clinician or doula,” explains Tiffanny Powell, Children’s Home & Aid’s Family Support Services Program Director.

New and young mothers in this Northern Illinois community can oftentimes face significant challenges and these expanded services are vital to meet their needs. The rate of abuse and neglect cases in Winnebago County is 20.5 per 1,000 children, over twice as high as the statewide average of 9.3. Studies show without some form of assistance, young, single mothers living below the poverty line are more likely to be impacted by and lack the resources to mitigate risk factors that may lead to child abuse and neglect.

Children’s Home & Aid strives to continue meeting every child and family where their need is greatest and doing whatever it takes so that they can thrive. We are proud of our legacy of meeting the changing needs of vulnerable families throughout Illinois and are inspired by the children and families we serve and their stories of resilience.

Thank you to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and to the John M. Scott Health Care Trust!

For more information on our doula services available, please visit: https://www.childrenshomeandaid.org/parenting/healthy-start/