Despite the knowledge we have on the critical importance of the perinatal period for maternal and child outcomes, research and intervention have lagged behind in understanding ameliorating the amplified risk for adverse outcomes experienced by many mothers and children. Exposure to poverty, gender based violence, child abuse, and institutionalization continue to create risks that can negatively impact the health, development, and wellbeing of mothers and children. This symposium will present the work of three teams addressing these risks and the gaps in understanding and intervention to promote the healthy development of mothers and children.
The first paper, Mother's perspectives on participation and disengagement from doula home visiting services, examines maternal engagement in doula home visiting services designed to support maternal and child health and development. This paper will provide insight into the needs of mothers receiving home visiting services and the barriers to participation in those services. The second paper, A narrative study of institutional and parenting identity among parenting foster youth, examines how parental identity development is shaped by the child welfare context. This paper contributes to the understanding of the impact of institutionalization on pregnant and parenting foster youth, the supports needed by these young parents, and implications for child welfare and family support providers. The third paper, Doula perspectives on supporting survivors of sexual victimization, examines perceived differences during pregnancy, labor, and delivery of sexual assault survivors compared to women who are not identified as survivors and the experiences of doulas providing support to these women. This paper highlights the need for additional support for survivors and the need for screening and trauma informed care training for doulas and other perinatal care providers.
All three of these papers use rigorous qualitative methods to capture the lived experiences of high-risk mothers and their care providers. This perspective offers the opportunity for social work researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to learned from the perspective of high-risk mothers and their providers about their unique needs. Having access to this information can help inform future practice, policy and research from the ground up in order to make meaningful change through intervention to improve the lives of women and children by addressing the harmful effects of poverty, gender based violence, and institutionalization.