HHS AWARDS $24 MILLON TO 17 STATES & 13 TRIBES
FFL-Inspired Pregnancy Assistance Fund Focuses on Solutions for Pregnant Women
September 29, 2010
Late yesterday, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced the 17 states and territories and 13 tribes to receive the first awards for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund.
The awards--the first federal grants of their kind--were largely inspired by Feminists for Life's work for pregnant and parenting students, birthmothers, and women who are victims of violence.
"When you think about the history of gaining support for each portion of this new law, we can see that FFL's long-term focus on meaningful solutions engender support from people on both sides of political and ideological divides. We've taken woman-centered solutions to a whole new level: outside the abortion wars. Now everyone--especially educators at our finest universities and colleges--can work together to answer their unmet needs," said FFL President Serrin M. Foster.
The first portion of the Fund's legislation is based on FFL's seventeen years of work on college campuses to address the unmet needs of pregnant women, birthmothers, and parents. An FFL-inspired bill in Michigan served as the model for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, which enjoyed bipartisan support and led to the creation of a core element of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. Through a matching grant, institutions of higher education will develop resources for the underserved population of pregnant and parenting students, including birthmothers.
The second section of the fund is devoted to teen mothers, and was largely shaped by the first section of the bill creating services for pregnant and parenting students and birthmothers in college.
The third portion of the bill is devoted to serving pregnant women who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. FFL has a long record of activism for victims of violence. "As the only pro-life group active in the coalition to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1995, and the only feminist organization to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Feminists for Life is eager to see grantees working on behalf of this vulnerable population in need." In 2004, FFL President Serrin Foster testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in support of the Act, also known as Laci and Connor's Law.
"We refuse to choose between these different efforts," Foster said. "Oftentimes these issues overlap, especially when it comes to victims of coercion who are in high school, college, or living in poverty. The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is offering real help for the most vulnerable with long-lasting benefits for all."
Foster congratulates the first states to be awarded the grants, saying, "We are eager to help those at the state and federal level who are working to serve pregnant women and victims of violence, and in particular, to share our unique expertise with university and college administrators."
FFL's work in each of these areas laid much of the foundation for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. "Pregnancy and parenting should never terminate an education." Foster said. "No woman, no parent, should be forced to choose between her education and career or her child. Pregnant and parenting students deserve better. That includes birthmothers and student dads like mine. Everyone deserves equal access to educational opportunities. Teen mothers and their babies also need our support. And those who are most vulnerable, victims of violence, must be supported. These first awards are an important next step in realizing the vision of our feminist foremothers who urged the women's movement to systematically address the reasons that drive women to abortion."
This summer, Feminists for Life urged state governments to apply for the grants which range from $500,000 to $2 million dollars each for up to three years. Twenty-four million dollars in grants were awarded to seventeen states and thirteen tribes for various programs designed to support pregnant women and parents.
FFL is offering technical assistance to states awarded federal grants through this program. As the creator of the higher education component of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, FFL will offer direct assistance to universities and colleges who are awarded the matching funds to implement the program.
"This is what we have been working towards for the past seventeen years," Foster added. "We want to see this program succeed in its first three years so that other states will be encouraged to develop their own programs when the opportunity arises for states to reapply in 2013. A list of states and tribal territories awarded grants can be found at HHS website. We urge colleges and universities to lay the groundwork for the next wave of grants now. FFL is ready to work with them to advance progressive solutions for women who are pregnant."
"While the investment in these programs is modest, the return will be priceless." Foster said.