I get a lot of great questions via email from readers, often related to doula work. I’m going to try and post excerpts of those questions and answers here, in the hopes that it might be helpful to other readers. The one thing I’ll say in advance of this question is that the issue of compensation for doula work, especially doula work that tries to reach marginalized communities is a big one right now. There is no easy answer.
I would like to see my practice expand again to serve homeless and low income women in our area. I know there is a need for it. We tell people that we work on a sliding scale and barter and trade for services, but we need to be able to do more. I would like to be able to go into the shelter system and take on clients at no charge to them, teach our breast feeding and comfort measures classes, host support groups, ect. At this point in our business, I cannot do it for free (My doula employee and I both have small children and are supporting our families).I was wondering if you knew of any grants that were available to fund this sort of thing. I know that they are out there (there seem to be grants for everything now days) and I know that the need is out there, and we have the desire. Just got to get all the pieces in place. Thank you for listening to my ramble, and I look forward to your reply.
You’re right, there is a lot of money, in the grand scheme of things, going toward services for homeless folks. BUT most of that money is wrapped up in community non-profits and government agencies that run shelters and other services for this community. So one avenue would be to see if you could build a relationship with a organization that already has funding for serving this community, and in an ideal scenario, they could fundraise to pay for doula support. Obviously while there are resources, they are also really tight and allocated already to existing programs.Another venue that you’ve probably considered is insurance reimbursement. I’ve heard anecdotally about doulas (particularly those also trained as midwives) working with clients who pay up front for the doulas services, but get reimbursed later by their insurance companies. Some folks are also beginning to make headway into Medicaid, and getting reimbursed by them. So the short answer is no, I don’t know offhand about funding that is available for doulas to work with populations in need, although I certainly think there should be. Even if there were this funding, it would likely require the doulas to be part of a 501-C3 non profit organization, so that would be another step in the process.