Background: New Jersey is one of the most urbanized, densely populated, racially and ethnically diverse states in the nation. NJ’s diversity highlights the importance of addressing disparities in health outcomes and the need to ensure a culturally competent workforce and service delivery system. NJ’s disparities in maternal health outcomes are known to be among the highest in the United States. The Division of Family Health Services (FHS) within the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) houses the Title V Program and is charged with working to promote and protect the health of mothers, children, adolescents, including those with special health care needs, and at-risk populations, and to reduce disparities in health outcomes by ensuring access to quality comprehensive care. COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the challenges in improving health outcomes and reducing disparities. The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Application and Annual Report that FHS submits each year to the Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB) provides an overview of initiatives, state-supported programs, and other state-based responses. These initiatives and programs are strategically designed to address the maternal and child health needs in NJ as identified through our continuous needs assessment process and in concert with the NJDOH’s strategic plan, the State’s Health Improvement Plan, Healthy NJ 2030, and the collaborative process with other maternal child health partners.
Methodology: Through partnerships and collaborations with other state agencies, family organizations, public and private entities and other MCH partners, FHS is working to improve health outcomes for mothers, children including children and youth with special health care needs, and families as well as working to eliminate disparities. Initiatives and programs are developed and fine-tuned to strategically address MCH needs identified through continual needs assessment, public input, and in concert with Nurture NJ, the NJDOH strategic plan, the State’s Health Improvement Plan, Healthy NJ 2030 and other MCH needs assessments and findings. Focus groups were also held to gain input of birthing people in NJ on concerns and needs in the MCH population.
Results: Findings included the need to have trusted support persons in the community who can advocate for birthing people and families and who can provide education, resources, and help in navigating the complex health care system. NJ has developed and expanded a perinatal workforce including community health workers, doulas, home visitors, and others to address both health care needs and social determinants of health issues. Families with children and youth with special health care needs continue to need coordinated, family-centered, community-based, and culturally competent services.
Conclusions: NJ’s Title V Program continues to support the work and mission of Title V and actively works on developing innovative ways to improve the health and well-being of NJ women, children, including those with special health care needs, and families.