Fighting maternal mortality: A resource guide for Texas mothers

As part of our ongoing coverage of maternal health care, we’ve been examining why Texas women — particularly women of color — are dying at alarming rates during childbirth or soon after.  

In the last several months, we’ve heard harrowing tales from mothers who endured medical nightmares. Dozens of experts and advocates told us that maternal deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem: Too many Texas women — particularly low-income women — don’t have access to health insurance, birth control, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and other services that could help them become healthier before and after pregnancy.

Access to such resources can mean the difference between life and death. So The Texas Tribune asked Texans which maternity resources they would recommend for keeping mothers healthy. Many of the resources listed below are only available to women living in the surrounding areas. Those available to all Texas women will be noted. 

What resources would you add to this list? Let us know here. (Questions marked with an asterisk require an answer to complete the submission.)

For all mothers

  • San Antonio-based Family Service Organization is a nonprofit offering job training, counseling and early childhood education services for Texas families. 

  • Planned Parenthood affiliates around Texas offer prenatal care, birth control, pregnancy tests, postpartum care, and screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

  • The Legacy Community Health Clinic, a United Way-affiliated agency, provides health care including adult primary care, pediatrics, dental care, vision services, behavioral health services, OB/GYN and maternity care, vaccinations and immunizations, health promotion and community outreach and comprehensive HIV/AIDS care to Houston and Harris County residents.

For low-income families

According to a 2016 report by the state’s Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Morbidityimproving mothers’ access to health services during the first year after giving birth increases opportunities for healthcare providers to detect, monitor, manage and treat both active and latent health risks.

  • The Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) provides federal assistance to low-income women during and after pregnancy as well as to infants and children up to age 5. Find a local WIC agency here. For eligibility information, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website.
  • Lactation care centers in Houston, Austin, Dallas and McAllen provide breastfeeding support to mothers who’ve recently given birth. Their services are free to mothers who are eligible for the WIC program. 
  • Jewish Family Services, which assists people of all faiths, has locations in Austin, Dallas and Houston and offers free individual counseling sessions for low-income families. They also have a food pantry and offer classes and counseling for women seeking career advice.

  • The Network of Community Ministries in Richardson offers baby clothes and bill assistance. 

  • The Houston Food Bank helps women apply for SNAP — the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Some local fire stations and police departments will give mothers free or reduced-priced car seats.
  • In Dallas, the Nurse-Family Partnership empowers first-time moms to create a better future for themselves and their babies. The nonprofit has specially trained nurses who partner with expectant moms, starting early in the pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday. The organization offers services to women in 43 counties throughout Texas.
  • Community Family Centers provides family support services and early childhood education to low-income families living in Houston’s Greater East End.
  • The Assistance Center of Collin County provides financial aid to families who are experiencing crisis and are under the threat of eviction or utility disconnection.
  • The Foremost Family Health Center in Balch Springs offers health services on a sliding scale based on income.

  • Central Health helps low-income Travis County residents get access to affordable healthcare. They also provide assistance to those suffering from substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses.

  • Houston’s Star of Hope is dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless men, women and their children living in the Houston area. They offer health clinics, parenting classes, on-site day care and counseling.

For domestic abuse survivors

Researchers have linked domestic violence and maternal mortality because women abused during their pregnancies are more likely to suffer health complications prior to delivery. 

  • The Family Place in Dallas provides shelter for women leaving abusive relationships.

  • The Shelter Ministries of Dallas is a Christian, nonprofit organization that provides housing for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.

  • Bay Area Turning Point provides several resources, including shelter, to families and victims of violence in the Houston area.
  • The Houston Area Women’s Center offers counseling and shelter to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their non-offending family.
  • Mujeres Unidas in McAllen supports female victims of domestic assault and sexual abuse.

  • In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, CHETNA supports members of the South Asian community impacted by domestic violence.

  • In Kaufman, Forever Families serves women who are, or have been, in abusive relationships and women with substance abuse issues. Victims of domestic violence in Kaufman can also find housing, counseling, parenting classes and job services at the Genesis Center.

  • Katy Christian Ministries offers counseling services and shelter referrals for those affected by domestic violence. It also offers limited financial assistance, food pantry referrals, Christmas assistance and more for  eligible families living in the Katy and west Houston areas. 
  • The Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation in Plano provides financial assistance, transitional housing and social services to victims of family violence. All Texas women can also call their 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 972-880-4192.

  • The East Texas Crisis Center, which has offices in Smith, Henderson, Van Zandt and Wood counties, provides safety, shelter and education for victims of family violence, sexual assault and other violent crime.

  • SafePlace in Austin provides housing and support for individuals and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation.

  • Hope’s Door New Beginning Center, which has several locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, specializes in intervention and prevention services for those affected by family or domestic violence.

  • The Austin Shelter for Women and Children serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to mothers and children (boys no older than 17) and has case managers available for residents.

  • In Austin, LifeWorks helps assist children and families facing homelessness, trauma and abuse.

  • The Bexar County Family Justice Center provides crisis intervention and emergency shelter to domestic abuse survivors. They also offer legal help and counseling.

For those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse

Mental illness and substance abuse disorders contribute to maternal mortality, according to the 2016 state task force report. The National Institute of Mental Health has also reported that people with depression have an increased risk of developing many chronic health issues, including diabetes and stroke, that can also impact pregnancy and childbirth.

  • Call the suicide hotline at 1–800–273–8255 or text 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. to text with a trained crisis counselor. The lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7.
  • The National Association on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. It has a toll-free HelpLine open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
  • The Bay Area Council on Drugs and Alcohol offers individual substance abuse counseling and recovery support services to those living in the Houston area. 
  • Mental Health America of Greater Houston has a comprehensive resource guide of nonprofit mental health services in Harris County. 
  • The Dignity Women’s Center in San Antonio has several counselors available to help victims of abuse, anxiety, spousal abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • In Dallas County, Metrocare provides services and support for people dealing with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

  • ETMC Behavioral Health in Tyler offers assistance — including treatment provided by experienced therapists, counselors and nurses — to those dealing with mental illness

  • Lakes Regional Community Center serves 15 counties in Northeast Texas with mental health, mental disability and recovery services.

  • The website MannMukti helps encourage an open dialogue about mental health issues in the South Asian community to remove stigma and improve self care. They also have a national resource guide that includes services available to South Asian women living in Houston, Dallas and Austin. 

  • The South Texas Behavioral Health Center, with locations in Brownsville and Edinburg, teaches people how to  cope with varying behavioral health conditions and addictive disorders.

  • The Mommies Program in San Antonio supports pregnant mothers with substance use disorders and offers recovery services to their babies.

  • The Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio assists people with mental health disorders, substance use challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

  • The University Health System in San Antonio offers gynecology services for expectant mothers and new moms and provides services for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

  • In Mesquite, the Nexus Recovery Center offers services for mothers or expectant mothers with addiction. It offers programs for adult women and teenage girls ages 13 to 17.

  • In Corpus Christi, South Texas Substance Abuse Recovery Services offers substance abuse programs for Coastal Bend residents. Most services are free.

  • In El Paso, Emergence Health Network helps residents with mental illnesses, intellectual or developmental disabilities or substance abuse issues find resources and treatment to help with their disorders and disabilities.

Thanks to Cresant Gail Flores, Alicia Lynn, Tara Wright, Julie Kaye Oliver, Shannon Long, Noma Nabi, Alison Nico Novack, Leigh Silver, Addis Gezahegn, Virginia King, Chanda Parbhoo, Alrak Manquero, Johanna Clements Garcia, William Burnley Jr., Alex Onyina, Megan Rodman McGilberry, Shawn Lowery, B.J. Mauldin, Johanna Rodriguez, Baray Yerdua, Kat Sturgeon Gomez and Laura McDonald for contributing to this list.

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