Mayor Mike Duggan has officially announced a citywide effort to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality in the city of Detroit with the partnership of SisterFriends Detroit and Make Your Date™ Detroit. This partnership celebrates the successful impact of Make Your Date™ Detroit and blends world-class medical resources with community-based support in an effort to achieve healthier outcomes for both moms and babies.
Make Your DateTM Detroit, launched in partnership with the City of Detroit and Wayne State University in 2014, is a nonprofit organization working to ensure every pregnant woman in every neighborhood knows that she has access to healthcare, testing and the resources she needs to have a full-term, healthy baby. This includes providing access to prenatal care, raising awareness of the importance of cervical length screening and treatment if necessary, offering pregnancy education classes and group prenatal care, as well as other resources.
Make Your DateTM Detroit has served more than 5,800 pregnant women in the City of Detroit and has demonstrated a reduced rate of premature births, the leading cause of infant mortality, among its participants.
“Make Your Date is having a significant impact in Detroit. And as a city, we must ensure that even more women gain access to the highest quality care and a strong support system to guide them through their pregnancy. That’s why we’re connecting Make Your Date with SisterFriends Detroit.,” Mayor Mike Duggan said.
SisterFriends Detroit will support better birth outcomes by providing volunteer mentors called SisterFriends to women and their families during pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their children. SisterFriends Detroit is based off a 30-year-old community support model called Birthing Project USA. The SisterFriends and Make Your Date™ Detroit partnership offers multiple opportunities for SisterFriends and Little Sisters (expectant moms) to network and connects them to important resources, such as transportation.
As partners, SisterFriends Detroit and Make Your DateTM Detroit will:
· Connect expectant moms to resources such as health insurance, home visits and prenatal care
· Offer a SisterFriend to every expectant mom
· Provide expectant moms with a Make Your DateTM Healthy Baby Plan, a personalized action plan to help mom manage doctor’s appointments and steps critical to a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby
· Education classes on a variety of pregnancy, birth and parenting topics
· Collaborative care coordination for expectant moms
“This partnership is an important step in making sure every mother has the resources and medical care they need to have a healthy baby,” said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department. “Having a social support system and resources is so important to having a healthy baby. We want every mom to know she can have a SisterFriend, and we are calling on volunteers to support our pregnant moms and families.”
Every Little Sister will have access to a transportation service called BabyRide, powered by Lyft. Participating expecting moms will be able to use the Lyft app to arrange transportation to their doctor’s appointments, SisterFriends meetings and Make Your DateTM education sessions; eliminating yet another barrier to delivering a healthy baby.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with SisterFriends to increase outreach and further help moms stay on their Make Your DateTM Healthy Baby Plan,” said Dr. Sonia Hassan, Associate Dean for Maternal, Perinatal and Child Health at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of Make Your DateTM, “our combined programs represent a unique collaboration with a health department that is motivated to improve the lives of the mothers and babies of Detroit. “The City of Detroit is calling on more women to volunteer as SisterFriends. The requirements for being a SisterFriend include: participation in a one-time, three hour SisterFriends training; help her Little Sister follow the Make Your DateTM Healthy Baby Plan; attend Make Your DateTM pregnancy education classes with her Little Sister; accompany her Little Sister to prenatal care appointments, when needed; and, be on-call for her Little Sister during her birth experience and throughout her child’s first year of life.
SisterFriends Detroit has received $2 million from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, $100,000 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and $70,000 from the Kresge Foundation in order to support efforts related to training for SisterFriends Detroit volunteers, community outreach, and professional development for SisterFriends and Little Sisters.
“The SisterFriends program utilizes Detroit’s greatest strength – it’s people,” said David Egner, president & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “We traditionally think of mentors as providing guidance in careers, but a caring friend and mentor for an expecting and new mother can have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of both the child and mom.”