Our History

What We Believe  The problem of improving maternal health outcomes for the most vulnerable populations in Washington, DC is a “wicked problem” as defined by Ritter and Weber (1973).  A “wicked problem” is a difficult or near impossible problem to solve with no single solution. The problem has great social complexity that contributes great resistance to solve. While multiple agencies, organizations, individuals, and public and private institutions are working to address and create solutions that consider the complex web of social, racial, medical, and environmental factors involved, there is a lack of collaboration and coordination of these efforts, creating limited clear endpoint solutions and systemic models pursued.

Our History
DFC was formed in 2000, as a result of the vision and passion of its founder, Ruth Watson Lubic, CNM, EdD, FAAN, FACNM, an American nurse-midwife, an applied anthropologist and a pioneer in the role of nurse-midwives as primary care providers for women, particularly in maternity care. Long before DFC, Lubic established herself as a leader of the nurse-midwifery movement in the United States having formed similar ventures at Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the Childbearing Center of Morris Heights in South Bronx, New York. In 1994, Dr. Lubic moved to Washington, D.C., to begin her work in Ward 5, where the maternal and infant mortality rates were the highest in the United States. Dr. Lubic was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Award in 1993 and used these funds to seed the District of Columbia program. The DFC was granted public charity status in 2000.

Our Model
A unique umbrella organization, DFC is the first collaboration model and co-location of its kind to offer continuous, uninterrupted care for women and their families during the important childbearing and early child-rearing years. The DFC weaves together health care, and early childhood development services in one location.  Each partner organization provides a subset of the services offered in the building.  The DFC promotes and supports interconnections between the Center’s direct service providers, maintains the facility, conducts research, provides program related grants and offers community-wide programming.

Who We Serve
The Developing Families Center serves low-income families in DC’s low-income communities.  The majority of DFC clients live in wards 5, 7, and 8. The DFC collaborative model recognizes the complex and interconnected factors that contribute to families’ health and well-being.  Offering a variety of services under one roof encourages families to build strong relationships with their providers and opens up opportunities for comprehensive care, and strengthens community.

Our Future

DFC’s vision has not changed over its 20-year history–to pursue its vision of a world without racial disparities in healthcare and with greatly lowered mortality and morbidity rates for impoverished women and infants in Washington, DC. We are ready to continue to support impactful and evidence-based maternal health services and programs through partnerships, education, and advocacy within the District of Columbia and our pleased to begin these efforts  as we transition to a private foundation in 2020. We welcome your thoughts, ideas, and engagement as we enter this next lifecycle, drawing together all stakeholders and the community in deep collaboration to maximize the efforts of many.