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A Mental Health Agency in Washington County Provides Doula Services to Families — Free of Charge

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Posted: Mar 02, 2023| Categories: Uncategorized

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Washington County isn’t the only place in Vermont that provides universal access to doulas. In St. Albans, the Parent Child Center of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services employs a seven-person team — three mental health clinicians, three doulas and a resource coordinator. They make home visits to anyone in Franklin or Grand Isle counties who is pregnant, has given birth, has experienced a pregnancy loss or is caring for a baby born to someone else.

The program, which is called HEART and serves between 85 and 100 families annually, began four and a half years ago, after nurses from Franklin County Home Health Agency reported seeing high numbers of families affected by perinatal depression and other mood disorders. The program started small, with just one home-visiting mental health clinician, but has steadily built up its staff. The efforts are funded primarily through state support for the 15 parent-child centers in Vermont, as well as money from the STAMPP grant and Medicaid reimbursement for clinicians’ services.

“We know that [when] families that have good mental health and wellness, it supports caregiver-child attachment, which then positively impacts development,” said Amy Johnson, director of the St. Albans center.

Johnson said she’s encouraged to see more advocacy work at the state level for increasing access to perinatal support, including doulas.

One of those efforts is H.154, a bill recently introduced in the legislature that would help more Vermonters gain access to doulas by requiring Medicaid to cover up to $850 for doula services before, during and after birth.  Read more…

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