First 5 Center for Children’s Policy and PTBi


Identifying best practices and promising solutions for Black families in California


colored bar

The issue: Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes for Black Families

First 5 Center for Children’s Policy and PTBi are collaborating to identify best practices and promising solutions to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for Black families in California, with a particular focus on infant mortality and maternal morbidity. Since the project kicked off in March 2020, the PTBi team established the California Black Infant and Maternal Health Steering Committee with stakeholders and leaders from organizations serving Black communities as well as birthing people with lived experience. With guidance from the steering committee, the team has completed a literature review and landscape analysis of existing programs and services serving the Black community across California as well as successful initiatives to date across the U.S.

The team is now interviewing:

  1. Black Infant Health programs, Community Based Organizations, and Perinatal Equity Initiatives,
  2. County and State Leadership,
  3. Black parents and families of Black birthing people across California.

Next, the team will work to inform county and state recommendations and is currently developing an assessment to understand a California county’s capacity and ability to implement changes that will improve Black infant and maternal health outcomes.

Read our report "Road to Black Birth Justice in California," which details the experiences of Black families and our recommendations moving forward.  

Access the Report



Nothing About Us Without Us: Improving Black Infant and Maternal Health in California

In December 2021, we presented at the First 5 Summit on our work, progress, and next steps.

Watch the full recorded event


Rally for Black Birth Justice

In June 2022, we shared recommendations informed by community-based organizations and programs, county and state leadership, and most importantly, Black women and birthing people.

Learn More

decorative barProject Team


Alexis Cobbins
PTBi Executive Director

Solaire Spellen
PTBi Associate Director

Shanell Williams
PTBi Director of Community Partnerships


Riya Jacob
PTBi Program Manager

Beruktawet Woldemariam
SJS Graduate Student Researcher

Caroline Demko
UCB Graduate Student Researcher


Wyconda Cotton
Community Researcher

Kennedy Steward
Community Researcher


colored bar


Project Timeline

  • The purpose of this project is to design short- and long-term strategies at county and state levels to improve birth outcomes for California’s Black families.
  • Strategies will be developed in partnership with researchers, advocates, practitioners, and other stakeholders, and will be informed by community voices throughout California.  

Research and Development (Spring 2021)

  • Find best practices related to public programs focused on reducing birth disparities and negative birth outcomes for Black families, building from research already conducted.
  • Highlight prenatal and infant health programs across the country improving outcomes for Black families that have had success.
  • Develop interview protocols and begin scheduling stakeholder interviews 

Stakeholder Interviews (Summer - Fall 2021)

  • Conduct interviews with stakeholders including California state administrators, county leaders, and staff at leading California organizations, various First 5s, and affected communities to inform county and state recommendations for improvements
  • Data analysis

Strategic Plan & Implementation Support
(Winter 2021 – Summer 2022)

  • Identify a cohort of counties to pursue new county-level plans that will improve Black infant and maternal health outcomes and serve as champions for other California counties to follow suit.
  • Work with county leaders to develop specific strategies to implement, partners to include, the funding necessary, and data reporting plans.
  • Track efforts taken to implement these plans.