The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been awarded $26,492 in its final year of the 2015 through 2017 March of Dimes California Chapter Community Grant, city officials announced last week.
Designed to close the health inequities gap and improve infant health, the grant seeks to help reduce the occurrence of birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The three-year grant total was $110,430, with the DHHS awarded $26,492 this year— the final year of the grant.
“Long Beach strives to be at the forefront of preventative health strategies,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “This March of Dimes grant enables us to continue supporting the health and well-being of our community, particularly the most vulnerable residents.”
The March of Dimes California Chapter grantees were selected to develop projects that increase and enhance prenatal care, improve women's health in an effort to maximize their chances of delivering healthy babies, and improve screening and diagnosis of heart birth defects. The aforementioned projects specifically focus on underserved female populations.
The awarded project, called Destined for Greatness, is a collaboration between the DHHS and the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Psychology Department. To ultimately reduce incidences of low birth weight and premature births, the project seeks to decrease depression and increase positive coping skills, including relaxation, tension awareness and assertiveness, to have a positive impact on mental health and chronic disease.
Destined for Greatness is an adjunct to the DHHS Black Infant Health (BIH) program, which addresses high rates of infant mortality, and has been funded by the California Department of Public Health since 1990, according to the release.
“As we approach our final year of the March of Dimes grant for Destined for Greatness, we are optimistic about continuing our collaboration with the CSULB Psychology Department and other community partners by seeking funding to continue providing this program to women in Long Beach,” Gwendolyn Robinson Manning, Black Infant Health coordinator for the DHHS, said in a statement.
The BIH program empowers African American women to make healthy life choices for themselves as well as their families. By connecting participants to education, medical, social and mental health services, including post graduate enrollment into the Destined for Greatness program, the program is able to serve approximately 120 women per year.
“We can make an immediate difference in the lives of babies and their moms when we provide funds to community-based or statewide projects that have the potential to improve birth outcomes and reduce premature birth rates, especially among high-risk groups,” Kelly Ernst, MPH, March of Dimes vice president of Maternal Child Health, said in a statement.
The other 2015-2017 March of Dimes California Chapter Community Grant recipients include Alameda County Department of Public Health, Alameda Health System, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and the Los Angeles Special Service for Groups, Families & Criminal Justice Division, according to the release.
“The March of Dimes has invested in community programs for more than 70 years,” Ernst said in a statement. “While we proudly fund innovative research in many of California’s leading educational institutions, research takes time. Our community programs can generate results quickly, which we can then share state-wide and nationally, significantly increasing the impact.”
For more information about March of Dimes, visit the website here.