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Coalition receives women’s service grant

Courtesy Tessa Dilley

By Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla, Staff Reporter

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services established the Women’s Service Program in late January,  aiming to provide increased access to advanced and inclusive women’s healthcare services. According to the department’s website, “The program will expand access to comprehensive, evidence-based care, support, and education across the Commonwealth.”

The department chose grantees, which each preside over an assigned region of Pennsylvania, through an application process this summer. The department chose the Maternity Care Coalition as the grantee for the Chester County area.

The Maternity Care Coalition provides women’s health services, specifically programs meant to help pregnant women and parenting families with children between 0 and 3 years old. Through state-issued grants, the coalition can not only choose to build upon its programs but also award smaller portions of the money to local women’s health clinics.

Samia Bristow, vice president of programs at the Maternity Care Coalition, believes the grant will help the organization expand its reach and impact.

“Getting this grant is super rewarding,” Bristow said. “Having access to an opportunity like this really supports us, addresses those inequities that exist in reproductive health and ensures that people have access to quality health service.”

A group of health and social justice activists founded the Maternity Care Coalition in 1980 in response to concerns for the well-being of infants and pregnant women. Since then, the coalition has established a variety of programs that aim to help pregnant women, women with children and older women.

With the grant from the Women’s Service Program, the coalition will receive between $2.7 and $2.9 million in funds. The Maternity Care Coalition plans to use the grant to broaden the services it offers, with a focus on providing additional reproductive health services and expanding its reach.

The coalition currently provides services to Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Some of the coalition’s programs include Home Visiting, Early Head Start, Newborn Care, Community Doula Services and Behavioral Health. It is in the process of recruiting staff members to better cater to the families under its care and their respective needs.

As a grantee, the coalition is able to partner with and fund local businesses to expand its services. Currently, it is partnered with clinical service providers AccessMatters and Maternal and Family Health Services. Both organizations provide access to additional services that the coalition does not have, including cervical screenings and STI testing.

Junior Soumya Sathyanarayana, vice president of womens’ rights advocacy club New/Gen ’Stoga, looks forward to witnessing the impact that the Women’s Service Program will have on local communities.

“I’ll be really excited to see where (the program) goes,” Sathyanarayana said. “I would really be interested to see how women are impacted, whether it is through more access or more education about the kind of health care they need. Even that is a win in my book.”

Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla, Co-Sports Editor
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She enjoys covering news and events occurring within the T/E community. Outside of The Spoke, Vaishnavi teaches karate and participates in numerous clubs including Peer Mediation and HOSA.