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Birthworkers of Color Collective Trains 450+ Diverse Doulas


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

Accessible Doula Care for Los Angeles

Did you know that doulas can help improve birthing outcomes? Research shows that pregnant and birthing people who work with a doula experience a reduced need for clinical procedures and interventions during labor and birth, fewer birth complications, and more satisfying experiences during labor, birth, and postpartum (Meyer, et al, 2010). Doulas play a vital role in the battle against maternal, perinatal, and infant health disparities within BIPOC communities. Although California took a bold step by including doula support as a covered benefit in the Medi-Cal program, many communities who stand to benefit the most remain unaware of the role doulas can play in their support.

Reproductive Justice in Action

Birthworkers of Color Collective (BWOCC) was founded in 2017 to address the lack of diversity and advocacy among the birthworkers in LA County. Since then, we’ve hosted 15 cohorts of full spectrum doula training resulting in over 450 doulas. We are the most diverse doula training programs in LA County, supporting efforts to reshape an industry historically dominated by white women. Our training focuses on reducing income inequality among doulas and creating financial sustainability for birthworkers.

2023 Doula Training at BWOCC Headquarters

In person Abortion Doula Training April 12 - Sign Up Now

In 2023, we offered 192 scholarships to help remove barriers to doula training with a large number of awards distributed to youth. As a result, we have strengthened the presences of BIPOC doulas in Los Angeles County, increased the number of BIPOC in the doula workforce, and we are continuously fostering a more inclusive and advocacy-centered approach to doula support that is culturally aligned and prioritizes marginalized folks as a whole.

Register for our virtual PAVE training

Increasing Diversity of Medi-Cal Doula Providers in Los Angeles County

BWOCC is uniquely positioned to address the shortage of approved Medi-Cal doulas in Los Angeles County. With only 53 doulas approved to serve the approximately 100,000 births every year in Los Angeles County and less than half of them being bilingual and prioritizing LGBTQI birthing persons; there is a significant gap in access to culturally competent doula services (DHCS Doula Webpage, 2024). This shortage highlights the need for greater diversity and inclusivity within the doula profession.

Sign up here for the Next Long Beach Training

We are proud to announce the successful implementation of our monthly PAVE training that provides support to doulas navigating the new Medi-Cal reimbursement system. Every month we host about 30 registrants who raise important questions about the PAVE application process including how to apply for business licenses, which CPR and HIPAA training qualify, and how to navigate the billing and reimbursement process with insurance companies.

Thanks to support from LA2050, we have been able to effectively respond to doulas’ needs and help eliminate financial barriers to community doulas to become Medi-Cal approved providers. BWOCC has sponsored some fees for our members associated with registering their business in Los Angeles County, paying for the required CPR and HIPAA trainings, as well as offering mentorship and hands-on application support. We have also created an admin & billing hub supporting our Medi-Cal approved doulas with the most challenging aspect to the Medi-Cal doula benefit and that is insurance billing. One of our recent approved doulas shared:

“I am so thankful to BWOCC for supporting me as I navigated the overwhelming PAVE process. I was very close to giving up but with the support of Stevie and her team, I was able to start the year as approved provider.”

Navigating Challenges and Building Support for BIPOC Communities

Our mission is particularly crucial in the current landscape, with people of color confronting legislative threats to reproductive autonomy and enduring systemic barriers to access. In a post-Roe era, confusion persists regarding available healthcare services, making our organization a trusted advocate and resource for marginalized communities in Los Angeles.

Collective members promoting Medi-Cal doula benefit at an LA Care/ Blue Shield community event (February 2024)

Addressing maternal health risks among Black birthing individuals and people of Color is a long-term battle that cannot be won overnight. It's an ongoing process that demands placing birth justice at the forefront and amplifying the voices of the most oppressed. We’ve made incredible strides forward however, we have more work to do! Together, we can continue breaking barriers for people of Color and enhance access to culturally relevant support for every Angeleno.

AuthorBirthworkers of Color Collective