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New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd announced $13.5 million in grants to community health centers, maternal and child health consortia, local health departments and social services agencies to ensure women get health services they need to maintain their health, have an optimal pregnancy and a healthy baby.Commissioner O'Dowd announced the grants while visiting Southern Jersey Family Medical Center, one of the grantees, in Burlington City.

"Evidence shows that improving a woman's health before pregnancy can greatly impact the health of her newborn, said Commissioner O'Dowd. " Through this program we will continue to enhance our efforts to increase access to care and decrease premature birth and infant mortality.

The $13.5 million in grants will be provided over three years with a total of $4.5 million distributed each year. Agencies will use the funding to hire community health workers, who will target pregnant woman at high risk for complications and women of childbearing age and enroll these women into appropriate care. Once women are enrolled in care, they will then meet with central intake coordinators to be evaluated for eligibility for other assistance programs.

"This program takes a comprehensive approach to serving this vulnerable population by also connecting them to safety net programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, Family Success Centers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to improve outcomes for the mother and her family," said Commissioner O'Dowd.

The benefit of central intake is coordination-women will meet with one counselor to learn about and enroll in state programs that can help support them and their families.

"Medicaid covers nearly 30 percent of New Jersey's births, so this initiative is critical," said Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, which oversees the Medicaid program. "We've incorporated performance-based contracting with our Medicaid health plans to further improve pregnancy outcomes and overall public health. In partnership with DOH, we're sending a clear message that maternal and child health are important priorities in New Jersey."

"While pregnancy is among the most exciting times in a woman's life, it's very important for a mother-to-be to take care of herself and to have access to the health services she needs," said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake. "By staying healthy and taking advantage of community support services for pregnant women, she can help make sure her baby is born healthy, too."
First year funding to hire community health workers totals $3.6 million and will be distributed to the following agencies:
• Southern Jersey Family Medical Center which will serve both Atlantic and Burlington counties ($600,000)
• Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, Camden County ($300,000)
• Cumberland County Health Department, Cumberland County ($300,000)
• Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, Essex County ($300,000)
• The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey which will serve Hudson, Passaic and Union counties ($900,000)
• Childrenħ Futures, Mercer County ($300,000)
• Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, Middlesex County ($300,000)
• Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey, Monmouth County ($300,000)
• Zufall Health Center, Morris County ($150,000)
• The Children's Home Society, Ocean County ($150,000)
First year funding for central intake projects totals $800,000, with each grantee receiving $100,000 per project:
• Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, Atlantic and Camden counties ($200,000)
• Burlington County Community Action Program, Burlington County ($100,000)
• The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, which will serve both Hudson and Union Counties ($200,00)
• Childrenħ Futures, Mercer County ($100,000)
• Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, which will serve both Monmouth and Ocean counties ($200,000)

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