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Illinois CARLA Program: Addressing Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

"This most recent batch of nation-leading policy expands access even further—because in the Land of Lincoln, we will not go backwards."

- Governor JB Pritzker, (IL-D)

racial disparities in maternal health

There have been growing concerns about racial disparities in maternal health outcomes in the United States in recent years. Black Women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White Women, and this discrepancy is due in large part to systemic racism and inequality.

Chicago Volunteer Doulas is working to change the trend. CVD's Rebirth Plan centers around reaffirming its commitment to healing justice, organizational stability, and centering Black birthing people in its work. The CVD mission is simple, connect pregnant and birthing people to free and low-cost compassionate labor, postpartum, and pregnancy loss support and information rooted in Black feminist wisdom and healing.

Another Illinois resource dubbed the CARLA program is working to address this issue and improve maternal health outcomes for all.

CARLA stands for Community-Centered, Accountable, and Responsive Leadership for Action. The program is a collaboration between the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Alliance for Women's Health, a nonprofit organization focusing on improving women's health outcomes through community-based initiatives.

The CARLA program addresses the social determinants of health that contribute to racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. It takes a community-based approach by working with local leaders to identify and address the underlying factors that affect maternal health. The program also provides training and support to healthcare providers to help them address implicit bias and improve the quality of care they provide to all women.

One of the key components of the CARLA program is its focus on community engagement. The program works closely with local community organizations and leaders to identify the specific needs and challenges facing women in each community. This includes addressing issues such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare services, and discrimination in housing and employment.

Another important aspect of the CARLA program is its focus on accountability. The program holds healthcare providers accountable for providing high-quality, culturally competent care to all patients, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. This includes providing training and support to help providers identify and address implicit bias in their practice.

"Illinois continues to lead in the fight to protect women and anyone seeking reproductive care. While others attempt to roll back rights and restrict bodily autonomy, our state is forging ahead to build the groundwork for comprehensive, accessible reproductive healthcare," said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

"By addressing barriers to seeking an abortion and supporting providers who meet patients' needs, these cross-agency initiatives demonstrate what it means to stand on the right side of history in the fight for reproductive justice."

The CARLA program also emphasizes the importance of data and research in improving maternal health outcomes. The program collects and analyzes data on maternal health outcomes in Illinois, which helps to identify areas of need and inform policy and programmatic interventions.

Overall, the CARLA program is an important step forward in addressing the racial disparities in maternal health outcomes in Illinois. By taking a community-based approach and working to address the social determinants of health, the program can potentially improve the health and well-being of women across the state. As we work to create a more equitable and just society, programs like CARLA will be critical in ensuring every woman has the opportunity to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

CVD is on the path to change. YOU can Be The Change through participation in our programs or with a financial contribution. Here's your chance to support the improvement of Birth and Reproductive Justice among Chicago families.


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