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Education and training support intended to improve outcomes for high-risk babies

Black and Indigenous infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthdays than white infants, Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) told the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday.

“We continue to have persistent and unacceptable health disparities in infant mortality and morbidity,” she said. “Public attention has only recently been focused on this issue as a public health crisis.”

Health Finance and Policy Committee hears HF1268 02/23/21

She sponsors HF1268, which would appropriate $260,000 from the General Fund in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to support the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s African American Babies Coalition initiative, which provides community-driven training and education to support the healthy development of babies.

It was held over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill. There is no Senate companion.

“When people know better, they do better,” said Nedra Robinson, early childhood program manager for Simpson Housing Services, who is a founding member of, and trainer for, the coalition.

“Young black parents are learning the importance of high-quality and consistent prenatal and maternal care,” she said.

The appropriations would be used to build capacity, promote best practices, and provide training and education to people “serving families with members who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.”

This includes a continuation of the coalition’s work focused on teens, prenatal health, the training of health care workers in culturally relevant care, and emerging issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, director Sameerah Bilal-Roby said.

Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) is disappointed the appropriation is not ongoing, but expressed her gratitude for the bill and the ideas behind it.

“Given that we have, really, a crisis of infant and maternal mortality in Minnesota, I’m glad to see this bill go forward,” she said.

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