Listening Sessions for Black Families
The Ohio Eliminating Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force was formed to provide Governor DeWine
with actionable recommendations on how to eliminate the racial disparity in the infant mortality rate and to create a road map that guides Ohio to meet the Healthy People 2030 goals for all babies. To engage Black women, families, and communities throughout the process to ensure that recommendations are grounded in reality, more than 30 Family Listening Sessions were held in 11 counties across the state, between May 1st and May 15th, to understand the health and well-being experiences of Black families and their infants. The listening sessions were hosted by organizations that submitted an application to recruit families and to support the participation of families before, during and after the sessions.
The full report can be found on the Ohio Eliminating Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force Local Listening Session Briefing website.
The findings presented here illuminate some of the preferences, concerns and experiences of the Black
women expressed in the sessions. Structural racism in health care and social service delivery systems
was central to this experience. Alarming gaps between the women’s experiences and what they would optimally experience and opportunities for improvement for all women were identified and are
organized here by the Healthy People 2030 goal areas as follows:
• Health Care Access and Quality
• Education Access and Quality
• Economic Stability
• Neighborhood and Built Environment
• Social and Community Context
Across all sessions, the focus groups identified shortcomings of the health care system and of the social supports needed to facilitate optimal outcomes. Overall, they had experienced discrimination during childbirth and faced communication barriers with their providers. They lacked practical and emotional support and reported that health care and social service providers fail to treat them with dignity and respect. And while racism drives racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality, the women also reported significant underinvestment in family support, education, and health care programs as well as communities and neighborhoods, which contribute to the alarming trends in maternal and infant health.