The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and state Department of Health Services (DHS) are teaming up to improve maternal and infant health across Wisconsin through a new funding opportunity, Healthy Wisconsin Families: Investing in the Infrastructure of Maternal and Infant Health.
In October, DHS announced the state would provide $5.5 million to both the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and Medical College of Wisconsin as part of $16 million the state received through the American Rescue Plan Act. The School of Medicine and Public Health is now making its portion of the funding available through a competitive grant process to help hospitals, health care systems and other non-profit clinical care providers work with community partners to provide better care and address root causes of maternal and infant health disparities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated adverse maternal and infant health outcomes disproportionately across Wisconsin’s communities. Approximately 400 infants die before their first birthday annually in Wisconsin.[i] These deaths more often impact Black, American Indian, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, multiracial and under-resourced communities, with disparities increasing over the last decade.[ii] Maternal deaths and pregnancy complications are also disproportionately distributed and have been increasing within Wisconsin’s diverse communities.[iii] The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-reaching negative impacts, including limiting health care access, increasing health risks, enlarging economic uncertainties and directly increasing pregnancy complications due to the social, biologic and physiologic impacts of the virus itself.[iv]
To address this complex and ongoing health challenge, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health is launching a new competitive request for applications, Healthy Wisconsin Families: Investing in the Infrastructure of Maternal and Infant Health. The awarded grants will provide funding to advance maternal and infant health equity, taking a step towards mitigation of COVID-19 pandemic impacts. This funding is uniquely targeted to break down barriers to accessing health care, create a more community responsive environment, and build bridges between health care systems, hospitals, community clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and community partners.
Each award will be for a maximum of $1,150,000 for up to two years, inclusive of direct and indirect costs.
Proposed pilot projects should focus on underserved and marginalized Wisconsin communities and be designed to address inequities in health outcomes for infants, children, women, and pregnant people.
It is expected that proposals address, at a minimum, one of the following priorities:
- Enhanced care coordination, including implementation and diversification of the perinatal workforce (e.g., midwives, doulas, community health workers, lactation consultants, others) in hospital and maternal care delivery models, with the specific aim to build policies and practices that solidify training, development, employment, systematic and equal access to community-aligned support.
- Transformation of the maternity and/or infant care health care environment through infrastructure investments to build a supportive person-centered or family-centered environment. Investments could include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Community-aligned labor and delivery areas
- Meeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “Birthing-Friendly” updated hospital designation
- Integrating free-standing birth centers[v]
- Pregnancy medical home implementation
- Group prenatal care
- Substance use treatment and services
- Facilitating neonatal intensive care unit parent needs and the critical ability to bond with baby
- Investment in telehealth, remote monitoring, home visits and the corresponding infrastructure to respond effectively to pregnancy and postpartum needs and reduce maternal morbidities and mortalities. This may include initiatives to manage cardiovascular risks, mental health needs, and/or substance use treatment and recovery.
- Investment in data and electronic medical record improvements for collaboration to increase understanding and identification of women and pregnant people at risk of preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy complications, and help build quality improvement initiatives. Investments may include building rapid response data systems to track and measure aims to reduce low-risk cesarean deliveries and/or alleviate barriers to participation with Wisconsin Perinatal Quality Collaborative to meet further quality improvement efforts.
Who should apply?
A community lead organization is required and must be a non-profit hospital/health system, Federally Qualified Health Center or other non-profit clinical care entity in partnership with one or more established community partners. Community lead organizations must be Wisconsin-based, non-profit, IRS tax exempt, 501(c)(3) organizations, or tribal or local government entities. Collaborations and consortium applications are encouraged by health delivery entities.
At least one community partner is required to share the grant award. A community partner may not meet the required structure of a community lead organization for this funding mechanism but is eligible to participate as a community partner and be compensated from awarded funds.
Key dates and deadlines
All dates are 2023.
- April 24: Request for applications released
- May 11 and May 16: Staff office hours for technical assistance and questions
- May 30: Full proposals due
- June: Proposal review
- Aug. 2: Finalist presentations
- Sept. 5: Notify applicants of decision
- Oct. 1: Earliest project start date
How to apply
Application forms are available in SurveyMonkey Apply.
Applications are due May 30, 2023 by 11:59 p.m.
Committee to Support Maternal and Infant Health
- Co-Chair Amy J. H. Kind, MD, PhD, Associate Dean for Social Health Sciences and Programs, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
- Co-Chair Renuka Mayadev, JD, Program Advisor, Maternal Child Health, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
- Jill Denson, PhD, Deputy Director, UW–Madison Prevention Research Center
- Christine Piette Durrance, PhD, Associate Professor, LaFollette School of Public Affairs, UW–Madison
- Katie Gillespie, DNP, RN, CPH, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, UW–Madison
- Stephanie Lozano, MSW, CSW, Department of Children and Families Tribal Liaison, Department of Children and Families
- Sue Smith, RN, MSN, CPM, Health Officer, Wood County Health Department
- Eileen Zeiger, MA, Executive Director, Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care
[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 12). Infant mortality rates by state. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/infant_mortality_rates/infant_mortality.htm.
[ii]Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (2019). Annual Wisconsin birth and infant mortality report 2017. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01161-19.pdf., Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (n.d.). WISH – Infant mortality module. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/wish/infant-mortality/index.htm.
[iii] Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (2021, October 21). Maternal mortality and morbidity. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mch/maternal-mortality-and-morbidity.htm.
[iv] March of Dimes. (2022, January 6). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What you need to know about its impact on moms and babies. Retrieved from https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-what-you-need-to-know.aspx.