Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) is a program within The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice that focuses on keeping infants safely at home with their parents by working with pregnant women who are at risk of losing their newborns to foster care. When pregnant women have older children in foster care, their newborns are often taken directly from the hospital and placed in foster care, despite the fact that many of these infants can safely be cared for at home. Current research shows that early disruptions in mother-infant bonding can prevent the infant from developing a primary attachment figure, which can have devastating life-long implications. If parents are able to provide a safe home environment to their infants, it is critical that they have every opportunity to do so.
Through HMHB, pregnant women with ACS cases are assigned a social worker and parent advocate, who provide supportive counseling, advocacy, service referrals, and psycho-education. HMHB connects expecting mothers to prenatal care, health services, evidence-based family strengthening programs, and attachment-focused mental health care for mothers and babies. We work to address the underlying issues that led to the mother’s previous involvement in the child welfare system, and provide additional assistance in other areas, including housing, public benefits, and transportation. Additionally, we help our pregnant clients access the resources that they need, including donated items such as strollers, bassinets, and baby clothes.
HMHB collaborates with evidenced-based community organizations to provide our clients with the best possible care. Partner organizations include Chances for Children, Albert Einstein Center for Babies, Toddlers and Families, South Bronx Healthy Families, South Bronx Early Head Start, Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and the Doula Project.
To date, HMHB has supported 161 pregnant women by providing them with pregnancy planning, preventive advocacy, evidence-based family strengthening services, and access to advocates regarding housing and income support. HMHB has also provided over 100 women with transportation assistance to attend their appointments, has reached 36 women with the HMHB maternity support group, and has made over 150 referrals to high quality programs.
HMHB strives to strengthen families and protect infants from the trauma and related consequences of being separated from their mothers at birth. By planning with pregnant women, we aim to ensure that healthy mother-infant attachment can occur, and that infants can safely stay home with their mothers without ever being introduced to the foster care system.
For more information or to make a donation of supplies to our expecting mothers and their babies, please contact Melissa Hamilton ator firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation, please visit our donation page and select Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies as the designated fund.