Frequently Asked Questions About the DC Developing Families Center

How does the DC Developing Families Center help low- income women and their families in the District of Columbia?
DCDFC breaks new ground with the breadth and depth of its services. DCDFC offers:
• A birth center and planned hospital births
• Prenatal care and health education
• A drop-in center and family support services
• Early childhood development services
• Well-woman and well-child health services
• Job training and continuing education

Are there similar centers throughout the nation?

No, this is the first time a birth center is being combined with other family support services, child care, and preventive health services for children to provide for the well-being of families.

How does DCDFC address the special needs of women in the underserved communities of the District of Columbia?
Community members were involved every step of the way in planning for this one-stop care center. Informal focus groups revealed that many women feel they are not being treated with respect and dignity by their caregivers. The birth center model emphasizes giving women the tools and information they need to be active in their own prenatal and well-woman care.

How does the DC Birth Center make a difference in the infant death rate in the District of Columbia?
The DC Birth Center addresses the problem of infant mortality by encouraging women to take part in their own prenatal care. Women learn about good nutrition and proper care for themselves during pregnancy, which helps ensure a healthy baby. The program also teaches women how to care for their babies once they are born. Partnering with the Healthy Babies Project to provide case management and social services and other supports helps families overcome barriers they face in getting regular care. Partnering with the Nation’s Capital Child and Family Development Infant and Toddler Program to provide developmentally appropriate services and learning environments, often for babies born in the DC Birth Center service, promotes the physical, intellectual, and social/emotional health, development, and safety of young children.

Is a birth center an effective way to deliver babies in a low-income, inner-city neighborhood?
When Ruth Lubic, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” awardee, helped open a birth center in New York’s low-income, inner-city South Bronx neighborhood, she was met with the same question. Giving birth can be an empowering experience, which carries over into family and community life. The DC Birth Center expects to have nurse-midwives attend 250 births per year, including planned hospital births for women who do not qualify as being at low risk.

What is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award?
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation every year names Fellows who receive $375,000 over 5 years and health insurance coverage for the same period. MacArthur Fellowships are unrestricted, “no strings attached” awards in support of creative individuals, not projects or organizations. Recipients are free to use the awards as they please. The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows. Dr. Lubic utilized her award to subsidize her several years of DCDFC development work.

Are birth centers reimbursed by Health Plans?

Most major health insurers contract with birth centers for reimbursement. In a national survey of birth centers, these insurers included companies such as Aetna/US Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CHAMPUS and Humana to name a few. The DC Birth Center honors Medicaid and other major insurance plans.

How much did it cost to build the DCDFC?
Hard and soft construction costs were estimated at $2,150,000. That amount, which does not include the appraised value of the building and land, has been raised.

Who is funding the DCDFC?
Funds have come from the private, public, and business communities. Building renovation and programs have been supported by grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, the Cafritz Foundation, the Philip Graham Fund, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and many other corporations and individuals. Public sector funders include the federal Healthy Start Program through the DC Department of Health, the Early Head Start Program, the Child Care Block Grant through the DC Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood, and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development.