A photo of Commissioner of Health Equity and Social Justice Lita Wills sharing updates about the MomsFirst program.
Commissioner of Health Equity and Social Justice Lita Wills shares updates about the MomsFirst program. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Covered by Documenters Janenell Smith (notes) and Alicia Moreland (live-tweet thread)


Cleveland’s MomsFirst program is down more than 150 participants compared to the past two years. The program provides free support to parents until babies are 18 months old and pairs participants with a community health worker. 

Cleveland Council Member Kris Harsh asked about the reason for the drop. Lita Wills, Cleveland’s commissioner of Health Equity and Social Justice, attributed it to staffing. She said they had to shrink the staff size after they “right-sized” community health worker pay, increasing the hourly wage to be more comparable to what other organizations pay. Prior to these changes, Wills said there were “a number of positions with multiple vacancies.”

Despite the drop in participants, MomsFirst increased the number of visits where they provided a service to mothers, according to Wills’ presentation. Harsh said it appeared that participants were receiving more intensive care, which Wills affirmed.

Opioid settlement dollars

Cleveland will receive around $360,000 from an opioid settlement with drug manufacturers and distributors, Wills said. She said the money will be used to support addiction recovery. The services include individual and group counseling, rides to medical appointments, and training on how to use naloxone, a medication used to reverse opiate overdoses. 

Project DAWN provides free overdose education and naloxone distribution.

Read more from Documenter Janenell Smith:

Read the live-tweet thread from Documenter Alicia Moreland:

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