UW School of Medicine and Public Health accepting applicants for grants to improve maternal and child health

April 24, 2023

Nonprofit health organizations in Wisconsin seeking to improve the health outcomes of mothers and their infants during the prenatal and postpartum periods have until May 30 to apply for funding from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

In October, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced that the state received $16 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, a law passed in March 2021 to help lessen the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are designated to reduce inequities in health outcomes for mothers and their infants, a population that was impacted more severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds were granted to both the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin to implement community-centered grant programs.

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is issuing a request for applications for Healthy Wisconsin Families: Investing in the Infrastructure of Maternal and Infant Health, which aims to strengthen relationships between health systems, community clinics, federally qualified health centers and community partners. Proposals should address how applicants will establish better models of care for mothers and infants in Wisconsin during the critical window of time just before labor and delivery through the postpartum period.

Wisconsin has one of the worst infant mortality rates for Black infants in the nation and Black maternal deaths and pregnancy complications have been increasing. American Indian, Asian, Latinx, multiracial, socioeconomically disadvantaged rural and other underserved communities also face disproportionate infant and maternal mortality rates made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This grant award is poised to break down the silos that exist in health care delivery for pregnant people, mothers and infants, according to Renuka Mayadev, program advisor, maternal and child health, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Health systems, federally qualified health centers and community clinics are encouraged to use these resources to improve their infrastructure and find opportunities to improve birth outcomes, she said.

“Across the state, we know there are people working hard on innovative solutions to this long-standing and complex problem, but funding is scarce, especially now as we see federal pandemic funding streams coming to a close,” she said. “This grant award is timely and can make a difference.”

Starting today, health systems, community clinics and federally qualified health centers may apply for grants of up to $1.15 million for up to two years. Proposals must include at least one community partner. The deadline to submit an application is May 30. Awards will be announced in the fall.

Proposals should address at least one of four priorities: enhanced care coordination, which includes the training and employment of a diverse and integrated perinatal health care workforce, transformation of the maternity and infant care health care environment, investment in telehealth, remote monitoring and home visits, and advancing data and electronic health record innovations.

Because this funding will catalyze partnerships among health systems and the community, there is an opportunity to build strong, trusting and lasting relationships that lead to better care and health outcomes for mothers and their infants across both short and long terms, according to Dr. Amy Kind, associate dean for social health sciences and programs, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We look forward to receiving a strong pool of innovative applications,” Kind said. “Community partners and health care systems see these challenges every day, and our hope is that their ideas will result in sustainable structural interventions that bring lasting impacts to improve maternal and infant health outcomes across Wisconsin.”