Recap: Grantmakers in Health (GIH) Conference Site Visit

by Jamie Aaronson

Thank you to the Grantmakers in Health (GIH) Conference Site Visit guests who connected with us at El Centro de la Raza this week, and to the “Best Start: Nurturing Early Childhood Development and Family Well-Being” inspiring panelists, including:

  • Sheila Capestany (Best Start for Kids)
  • Estela Ortega (El Centro de la Raza)
  • Melanie Maltry & Marcy Miller (King County)
  • Mike Quinn (SVP Seattle)
  • Dila Perera (Open Arms PS)

It was a rich and full day thanks to the Perigee Fund’s expansive vision and detailed planning. The visit spanned a site tour, delicious quesadillas and agua fresca, plus conversation and reflection:

  • El Centro de la Raza Tour
  • Community Partners Program Discussion
  • Open Arms Overview (Dila) & Best Starts for Kids Overview (Sheila)
  • Funders Discussion (Melanie, Marcy, Mike)
    • Approaches to structuring funding and grantee supports to reflect focus on racial equity and community-led approaches
    • Reflections on the role of funders in supporting community priorities and community organizations & programs
  • Closing Gratitude (Sheila, Estela, Dila)

Open Arms ensures doulas are provided and reach the right communities. We also help other community-based organizations have a seat at the table to grow and serve their communities. In preparation for this visit, we shared this 1-sheet overview of our programs and impact, and Dila, our Executive Director, led an engaging live session with an emphasis on outcomes.

“Fundamentally what we do is nurture physical, social, and emotional health through deep, community-centered relationships between a doula and their client(s). For us, this work is about the nature of the relationship and its intensity.” – Dila Perera, MSW, MPH

The outcomes our clients realize for themselves are exceptional:

  • In 2018, our preterm birth rate was 4.9%, which is half the average for our community.
  • Our unplanned C section rate was 10-15% lower than community averages.
  • 94% of our clients were breastfeeding at 6 months which is a milestone.

On Doulas and Medicaid in WA and beyond:

  • In 2015, an interagency Governor’s council recommended providing doulas through Medicaid.
  • In 2018, several states around the country started to take note of the health impact of doulas and worked to provide them through Medicaid.
  • Open Arms helped lead this drive in Washington State, and in this legislative station, the WA legislature expanded MSS to provide doulas to Medicaid-eligible families once again.

Thank you GIH for being part of our critical mission to support families and community!