The scale and reach of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant—with current appropriations of $712,700,000—is indisputable, as 93 percent of pregnant women, 98 percent of infants, and 60 percent of children are touched. While impressive progress has been made in important benchmarks, including the 25 percent decline in infant mortality since 1997, bereavement remains absent from the MCH Block Grant scope. This omission is notable as the agency’s technical advisement manual to state programs mentions death more than 150 times and supports fetal and child death review panels throughout the United States; however, attending to bereavement or grief in the aftermath of these deaths is not included even once in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) guidance.
Bereavement—the loss of a significant relationship by death—is one of the most traumatic stressors a person endures, and extensive scientific evidence domestically and internationally points to the significant, enduring, and life-altering impacts bereavement has on grieving individuals in the short- and long-term. Similar to the MCH Block Grant program, the scale and reach of bereavement in the United States is extensive, particularly as concurrent mortality epidemics—COVID-19, overdose, suicide, homicide, maternal mortality, traffic fatalities, and the emergence of more extreme and deadly climate events—has left no neighborhood untouched.
Read more: Evermore Letter to HRSA