Deborah Garneau
Maternal and Child Health Director

Maternal and Child Health, Center for


Support and promote the health of all birthing parents, children, and families to reduce racial, environmental, and socioeconomic inequities and improve outcomes.

What we do

  • Align and facilitate the coordination of efforts among RIDOH health topics and programs as it relates to maternal and child health.
  • Integrate a health equity focus within our priorities and strategies.
  • Focus on key areas including women/maternal health, perinatal/infant health, child health, adolescent health, children with special healthcare needs, and social determinants of health
  • Administer the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant in Rhode Island.
    • The Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant Program is a partnership between the federal government and states, overseen by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of the grant is “to support the health and well-being of all mothers, children, and families.” The General Laws of the State of Rhode Island Section 23-13-1 designate the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) as the administering agency. Within RIDOH, the Maternal and Child Health Program oversees the fulfillment of all of the Block Grant’s related initiatives and State requirements.


Below are the Maternal Child Health priorities, organized by topic area—also known as domains. You can read more about each of these domains, priorities, and strategies in the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Report to the Legislature. Page numbers link to the corresponding information in this report.

Preconception, Pregnancy, and Postpartum

Priority 1: Improve prenatal health by reducing perinatal health disparities (p. 10)

  • Strategy 1: Address perinatal health disparities within prenatal health programs (p. 10)

Priority 2: Reduce maternal morbidity and mortality (p. 10)

  • Strategy 2a: Create and oversee the Rhode Island Pregnancy and Post-Partum Death Review Committee (p. 10)
  • Strategy 2b: Continue to implement a Perinatal Quality Collaborative with diverse representation from the community (p. 10)

Strategy Delayed by COVID-19 that will resume:

  • Promulgate birth center regulations (p. 11)

Perinatal/Infant Health

Priority 3: Strengthen caregiver’s behavioral health and relationship with child (p. 13)

  • Strategy 3a: Make available comprehensive services and supports through the Family Visiting Program (p. 13)
  • Strategy 3b: Grow behavioral health teleconsultation resources for caregivers and children (p. 14)
  • Strategy 3c: Support efforts to expand breastfeeding services and supports (p. 14)
  • Strategy 3d: Increase WIC caseload (p. 14)

Strategies Delayed by COVID-19 that will resume:

  • Resume efforts to increase the number of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants and Certified Lactation Counselors of color to address disparities in infant breastfeeding rates (p. 14)
  • Continue the work of the Rhode Island Task Force to Support Pregnant and Parenting Families with Substance-Exposed Newborns (p. 14)

Child Health

Priority 4: Support school readiness (p. 16)

  • Strategy 4a: Improve early literacy through Reach Out and Read (p. 16)
  • Strategy 4b: Support Preschool Development Grant efforts in increasing equitable access to early childhood education (p. 16)

Adolescent Health

Priority 5: Support behavioral health (p. 18)

  • Strategy 5a: Further progress on Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project (p. 18)
  • Strategy 5b: Continue to support the Youth Advisory Committee (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5c: Continue to participate in statewide initiatives to plan a System of Care of children’s behavioral health (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5d: Maintain Teen Outreach Program Activities (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5e: Sustain the PediPRN Program (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5f: Bolster the Violence and Injury Prevention Program (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5g: Continue the Youth Sport Concussion Prevention Program (p. 19
  • Strategy 5h: Continue implementation of the Emotional Regulation Intervention Project (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5i: Review and implement the Statewide Adolescent Health Strategic Plan (p. 19)
  • Strategy 5j: Promote teen dating violence and youth sexual violence prevention activities (p. 20)
  • Strategy 5k: Expand the Youth Ambassador Program (p. 20)
  • Strategy 5l: Promote the Conference on Youth Sexual Health Education (p. 20)
  • Strategy 5m: Continue the Dare to Dream Youth Leadership Initiative/Conference (p. 20)

Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs (CYSHCN)

Priority 6: Ensure effective care coordination for CYSHCN (p. 22)

  • Strategy 6a: Promote a web-based application to address effective care coordination in the Medical Home Portal (p. 22)
  • Strategy 6b: Encourage a Patient Centered Medical Homes-Kids’ System of Healthcare for CYSHN (p. 22)
  • Strategy 6c: Advance an Adolescent Healthcare Transition Project with patient-centered medical homes for children (p. 23)
  • Strategy 6d: Continue the Dare to Dream Youth Leadership Initiative/Conference (p. 23)
  • Strategy 6e: Support the enhancement of care coordination with the Patient-Centered Medical Homes-Kids Practices, with emphasis on CYSHCNs (p. 23)

Cross-Cutting/Community Health

Priority 7: Adopt social determinants of health in MCH planning and practice to improve health equity (p. 26)

  • Strategy 7a: Support community health worker training and development (p. 26)
  • Strategy 7b: Support a comprehensive system of engagement and leadership development for vulnerable populations through the Youth Advisory Council (p. 26)
  • Strategy 7c: Promote good oral health across the lifespan with a focus on prevention (p. 26)
  • Strategy 7d: Amplify family voices and input (p. 27)
  • Strategy 7e: Ensure health equity programming among Maternal Child Health programs (p. 27)
  • Strategy 7f: Continue to support the development of a doula infrastructure (p. 27)


Our Programs