Oct. 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30th, FRC was very pleased to announce the release of a groundbreaking report, A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life: Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report 2009 which coincides with the 40-year anniversary of the pregnancy resource center movement (PRC) in the United States. A collaborative project with the three major pregnancy resource center networks Care Net, Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and LIFE International the report tells the story of a movement contributing in significant ways daily to the enhancement of maternal and child health nationwide, as well as around the world.
Go to www.apassiontoserve.com to learn more about the PRC movement and the report, view news stories, to order/download a copy of the report, and/or to view the press conference web cast. My remarks from the release Wednesday afternoon at the National Press Club are below:
Comments, September 30, 2009
Good afternoon, it is good to see you all. I am Moira Gaul, fellow of womens and reproductive health at the Family Research Council here in Washington.
The 2,300 pregnancy resource centers represented in A Passion to Serve are affiliated with the three major national networks: Care Net, Heartbeat International and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. This group of PRCs assist over 5,000 Americans daily with sexuality- and pregnancy-related concerns. Small staffs and the tremendous numbers of trained volunteers and professionals offer a whole person approach whereby - emotional, medical, spiritual, and practical needs are met through tangible help, support for safe and healthy pregnancies, and resources.
The vast array of education, medical, and outreach services PRCs provide, and that we will hear more about today, combine powerfully to enhance womens and maternal health, as well as reproductive and childrens health. Given the thousands of women served daily - this translates into a substantial public health benefit to our Nation.
The compassionate care offered unconditionally through a faith-based setting at PRCs, offers hope and well-being. I witnessed this love in action first-hand while working at the Charlottesville Pregnancy Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2000 to 2002. As client services director, I oversaw outreach to clients including counseling on pregnancy options, education materials, community referrals, and the coordination of medical services offered at the center. Some 2,500 client visits later, no client was turned away by a volunteer each one was welcomed, valued, and cared for. This was faith-based social service shining at its brightest!
More recently while earning a masters in public health, within the maternal and child health track at George Washington University, it became increasingly apparent that the tremendous work and impact of the PRC movement were unrecognized and understudied. For an organized movement of its size and scope, this left a void to be filled. A Passion to Serve aims to recapitulate the extraordinary contributions from what has been characterized as ... a quiet campaign ...
Let me briefly mention two aspects of this quiet and humble campaign: First, as thousands of client exit surveys confirm, the trust that women place in those who assist them at PRCs is high and a sign of broad acceptance by both women and communities. Because of this trust, PRCs have multiplied in number across the country and they have become an essential link in community networks of care. This report takes a closer look at specific work with underserved and special populations in various geographic locations, from metro-Portland to Coastal Georgia to rural Arizona and beyond. Case studies highlight center outreach to women in prison, youth in communities of crisis, at-risk populations, as well as centers serving Native Americans. Accompanying the case studies are statements of praise from county health departments, social service agencies and other organizations that validate PRC work and echo their respected role as community partners.
Second, following delivery of the baby, PRCs fulfill another vital function. Parenting education has become a core service provided by pregnancy centers, equipping new mothers, and fathers, to be stronger parents and preparing nurturing environments for child raising. Nationally, nearly 70 percent of pregnancy centers offer this specialized education either through direct services on premises or in nearby churches, schools, and other locations. Curriculum topics span child development, safety and injury prevention, and positive discipline strategies.
Classes typically cover life skills to strengthen parental development and resilience. The meetings often provide opportunities for women to connect and grow with other new moms, helping to build a social support network which contributes to positive maternal mental health outcomes.
Were grateful to have such a distinguished and generous panel of physicians, network presidents and past clients -- women who will attest to the active and flourishing role of pregnancy resource centers in caring for the whole woman and her unmet needs. Today we are taking a major step toward the awareness that PRCs so richly deserve.