State Initiative

Addressing Bias and Advancing Equity in State Policy – California

May 23, 2022

Ensuring an equitable start for all babies requires understanding the influence of race, ethnicity, and racism in the lives of babies and families. As a result of the longstanding history of systemic racism and marginalization in the United States, babies in communities of color, particularly Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native infants and toddlers, are disproportionately at risk for poorer outcomes in each of ZERO TO THREE’s policy framework domains of well-being that are essential for healthy development—Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences.

Recognizing the comparatively high rate of maternal mortality for woman of color, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 464, the 2019 California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. The bill mandated implicit bias training for all health care professionals working in perinatal services. The Act also contained state reporting requirements to track outcomes for pregnant women, and it mandated hospitals and birthing centers to provide information on how patients could file discrimination complaints. Finally, a requirement for publication of maternal morbidity and mortality disaggregated by race and other determinants will allow for unprecedented transparency and accountability as the Act is implemented in hospitals across the state. This legislation made California the first state in the US to require implicit bias training for perinatal health care professionals.

To learn more about addressing bias and advancing equity in state policy read here.

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