Murkowski Introduces Legislation to Provide Critical Funding For Pregnant Mothers

Bill Ensures the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) is Fully Funded for Five Years

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced new legislation to reauthorize mandatory funding at $25 million for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) for five years, through 2024. The PAF program is a vital health and human services program that delivers funding for states and tribal entities so they can provide essential services directed to youth who are pregnant and parenting, to pregnant women who have experienced sexual violence, and other vulnerable individuals who are expectant or new parents. This competitive grant program has the ability to provide funding opportunities for non-profits in Alaska who target their social services to a geographical area through either direct service or by contract with a local government agency.

“The PAF program has proven to be highly beneficial in improving the educational, health, and social outcomes for expecting women. I’m proud to support this bipartisan effort to ensure that at-risk individuals who are pregnant or new to parenting receive the support they need for them and their children to thrive,” said Senator Murkowski. “By providing continued appropriations for the PAF program, we are placing the health and safety of expecting and parenting mothers and their children first. Not only does this translate to tangible items – diapers, food and baby equipment – but the prenatal care, maternal wellness, and child health support is invaluable.” 

“The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a vital program that has provided support to more than 94,000 people, as they prepare to welcome a new child,” said Senator Casey.  “We must ensure that every woman, regardless of her age or circumstances, has a healthy pregnancy and delivery. That’s why Senator Murkowski and I introduced the Pregnancy Assistance Act of 2019. This bill will extend this important program and help pregnant and parenting youth better access the parenting, education and employment support services they need to provide healthy and nurturing homes for America’s next generation.”

“One of the leading indicators of child abuse and neglect is when a mother does not have support and knowledge to raise a child,” said President/CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust, Trevor Storrs. “Pregnancy Assistance Fund helps remove this barrier and sure mother and child thrive.”

“At Cook Inlet Tribal Council we know how crucial the Pregnancy Assistance Fund is and we fully support its reauthorization. As a grantee under this federal program, we work to provide critical supportive services to Alaska Native/American Indian expecting and parenting youth. These essential services give vulnerable young individuals and families a lifeline of support and a path to self-determination by connecting them with the social and education resources needed to provide care for their children, to begin building a healthy future, and to help them fulfill their endless potential,” said Gloria O’Neill, Cook Inlet Tribal Council President & CEO.

“The Women’s Law Project works regularly with pregnant and parenting students.  To help these students succeed in their educational and personal goals at this critical juncture in their lives, it is critical to provide pregnant and parenting students with the supports they need,” said Women’s Law Project staff attorney, Margaret Zhang.

The PAF program is currently set to expire September 30, 2019. For more information on the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF), click here.

For the full text of the bill, click here.

Other Maternal Care Efforts: In December 2018, legislation Senator Murkowski introduced with Senator Baldwin of Wisconsin, the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, was signed into law. The bill helps ensure women have better access to timely, quality maternity care by identifying provider shortage areas in rural and underserved communities. Improving access to maternity care will increase overall safety, reduce rates of pregnancy-related deaths, and lower healthcare costs, long-term.

Related Issues: Health