For those who might have missed it, we hosted a webinar this morning about exciting new projects that are supporting youth and families across Louisiana.  We heard from Nicole Deggins of Sista Midwife Productions and Kim Winston Bigler of James Storehouse about their work to create paradigm shifts in community support.

Nicole Deggins is leading a movement of doulas and perinatal community health workers who will support women across the state to get better health outcomes. Louisiana ranks poorly among states for birth outcomes – including infant mortality, pre-term birth and low birth weight. There are profound disparities in the outcomes experienced by women of color. Data from nationwide research indicate that a birth companion can make all the difference in a healthy birth. Sista Midwife Productions has a plan to train perinatal health workers in churches and community organizations across the state who can be available to their community in support of better outcomes.

Kim Bigler is the founder and executive director of James Storehouse, an organization that supports the physical and emotional needs of children in and transitioning out of foster care. Last year, Kim’s organization was chosen to implement the Open Table model, which matches a “family” of supporters who meet once a week for a year with foster youth who are transitioning out of the system. These young people are especially vulnerable to homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder and sex trafficking. The Open Table is an “intentional village” that is creating significantly better outcomes for these young people (85% employed or enrolled in school, 85% reporting they feel more confident with problem solving and 95% being self-supporting in the future).

Both of these projects represent significant shifts in how communities support young people and families. The outcomes are promising and, most importantly, are open for your involvement. If you missed the webinar this morning, I hope you’ll take time to review the recording, share it and reach out to people and organizations who can become a part of these movements.

If you want to connect about supporting young people and families, let me hear from you!

– Michael Tipton
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation President
Head of Community Relations


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