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Free Doula Program For Black Moms-To-Be Gets New Life

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A pilot program offering free doula services in LA is getting a second chance. Mariana Dale/ LAist
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A few months ago we told you about the controversy surrounding a promising program meant to help African American moms have healthier births.

The funder, insurance company Health Net, pulled the funding from the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health after several doulas accused the program leaders of racial insensitivity and a hostile work environment.

Several staff members were fired by the association after they filed complaints about pay and inappropriate comments about African American staff’s race, hair and bodies.

Now the program has been reborn as the Frontline Doulas program.

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“To further enhance the patient experience of expecting mothers, we are transitioning a portion of our project to Diversity Uplifts, a local non-profit whose philosophy is more closely aligned with our approach to the program,” a Health Net spokesman wrote in an emailed statement.

The co-directors of Frontline Doulas are Sayida Preprah, a licensed clinical psychologist and doula, and Khefri Riley, who is also a doula. Both had lodged complaints about the original program and were fired.

“This is my community, these are my sisters,” Peprah said. “I was a Medi-Cal mom with both of my kids in L.A. County trying to figure out this system and the care of a doula, a black doula, changed my life.”

The new program will begin enrolling clients starting March 9.

Here are the requirements:

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  • Live in Los Angeles County
  • Identify as Black and/or African American
  • Have an estimated due date between March 15 and June 30, 2020.

Participants will receive services including three prenatal visits, support during birth, three postpartum visits and lactation education. There will also be a fatherhood support group.
To apply, email FrontlineDoulas@DiversityUplifts.org or call (310) 817-0551.

“We’re re-framing what’s happening right now in the current crisis of black maternal and infant health into this resilience and into a re-claiming of healthy birth for black families,” Riley said.

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