In late spring 2021, representatives from Community Homeworks were invited to attend a powerful virtual community advocacy presentation by Cradle Kalamazoo, YWCA and the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP. Cradle Kalamazoo consists of 30+ community partners that are committed to improving birth outcomes by creating zero disparities in infant mortality between Black and White babies born in Kalamazoo. Cradle Kalamazoo offers programs in the following priority areas: Health Equity, Family Support Services, Reproductive Health, and Safe Sleep.
The Cradle Kalamazoo presentation devoted a significant amount of time on mother and infant health and safety, specific to home environment and housing stability. The material outlined a clearly defined intersection between infant mortality and housing conditions.
Community Homeworks later invited members of the Cradle Kalamazoo leadership team to provide a similar presentation to its entire staff. Both organizations discussed ways we might better collaborate to serve young and expectant mothers and infants in our community through critical home repairs and resources. Members of the team identified example households we served where unresolved repair issues may have posed significant risks to young families, such as loss of heat during winter months.
“The presentation was really eye-opening,” said Kaylen Humes (Program Manager). “Cradle Kalamazoo did a great job showing the connection between the condition of a home and infant mortality. We also had a great discussion on how we can make sure expecting parents and parents of newborns are aware of our programs!”
As a result of the discussion, members of the Community Homeworks staff recently presented to the Cradle Frontline, a bimonthly gathering of over 30 partners serving new mothers and babies, including health professionals, social workers, etc. Staff provided an orientation on our critical home repair services and eligibility requirements, so these frontline professionals are better equipped to make referrals. Community Homeworks also recently added questions to the intake process to gauge whether expectant mothers or infants reside within a home. Our Program Manager and Navigation Support Specialist hope to regularly attend the Cradle Frontline meetings to remain engaged with participating organizations and remain accessible as a resource.