Pregnant/perinatal women who are homeless are an extremely underserved population by the healthcare and maternal healthcare systems, and are at high risk for complicated pregnancies and low birth-weight newborns. Studies show that they are twice as likely to have lower birth weight babies, early or threatened labor, or hemorrhage during pregnancy compared to women who are housed. Despite having one of the largest homeless populations in the country, little is known about homeless pregnant women in Chicago, including their pathways into maternal child health (MCH), their unmet needs, and their health outcomes. There are also no replicable service models that educate and promote access to preventative care.
Goals and Objectives:
The goal of the Kids Connected MHE project is to increase the number of pregnant homeless women served by the health and maternal healthcare systems by creating a replicable model that will increase the number who access prenatal and MCH health care during their first trimester. Objectives include: Develop a referral and linkage model to coordinate access to MCH across the homeless, community and hospital systems; improve the health literacy among pregnant/perinatal homeless women and the homeless services workforce; and improve access to MCH services for this population within the homeless system.
The project will add a maternal health educator to focus on the needs of pregnant/perinatal homeless women, expanding an existing innovative program, Kids Connected. Kids Connected is a first-of-its-kind program, creating a system of care that streamlines primary, preventative, and mental health care for homeless families. Expanding Kids Connected to include maternal and newborn health is a crucial way to meet the needs of this highly underserved subpopulation.
Kids Connected was created when three of Chicago's most respected and experienced homeless and human service providers joined forces to address the seriously fragmented health care system faced by homeless women and children. Kids Connected is supported by a 41-member board that will also advise the MHE project and consists of members from every child-serving government system in Illinois plus service providers, the Illinois chapter of AAP, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, members of the philanthropic community, the Governor's office, and 15 parent leaders.
The project will collect both process and performance evaluation to track improvements in early detection of pregnancy; increased health literacy; and increased referrals for MCH services. Performance outcomes to be tracked include: Increase the % of women referred for MCH services during the 1st trimester; increase the % of women with a perinatal visit within 4-6 weeks of delivery; and increase % of women who make well-child visits.