Community-Based Doula Policy Learning Symposium: Call for Applications

OfferingCommunity-Based Doula Policy Learning Symposium
Application OpenMonday, March 4, 2024
Application DeadlineFriday, April 12, 2024
Acceptance NotificationFriday, April 26, 2024
Community-Based Doula Policy Learning Symposium
July 10-12, 2024
All associated hotel, food, and travel costs are covered by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Who should apply?

Are you a legislative staff member interested in a one-of-a-kind, no-cost professional development opportunity?

Does your role involve supporting state policymakers in identifying ways to improve maternal and child health outcomes including preterm birth, low birthweight, and positive parent-child relationships?

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at Vanderbilt University is inviting state legislative staff to a 3-day Policy Learning Symposium on community-based doulas – an evidence-based policy proven to improve maternal and child health outcomes – on July 10-12, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee. Travel expenses are covered.

What is the Community-Based Doula Policy Learning Symposium?

This Policy Learning Symposium will help build understanding and expertise in what the research says about the impact of community-based doulas, how doulas fit into a broader, equitable maternal and child health system of care, and the policy components that should be considered to develop an equitable and comprehensive statewide policy.

This intimate, nonpartisan event will provide a unique opportunity for legislative staff members from across the country to join a cohort of 40 of their peers interested in learning about community-based doulas as a strategy for improving maternal and child health outcomes. We encourage staffers from all political parties and from legislative offices or committees to apply.

Participants can expect to hear from and consult with state and national experts and community-based organizations. Through insightful presentations, discussions, and a collaborative learning model, participants will explore the why (evidence of impact), the who (what states are doing), and the how (implementation) of developing community-based doula policy, with an emphasis on promoting equitable access and outcomes.

Why should you join us in Nashville?

As of March 1, 2024, 13 states provide Medicaid reimbursement for doula services, and a handful of these states have developed a more comprehensive policy to improve equitable reimbursement for doula services, provide workforce support, and improve families’ access to doula services. Doulas have been shown to help improve birth outcomes for mothers and babies, so this evidence-based policy can have far-reaching positive implications for your state. Many states can still enhance existing legislation or design new, comprehensive legislation to support community-based doulas. State policy choices have big implications for program effectiveness, such as policy alignment with the needs of communities and doula providers, funding structures, workforce development and support systems, credentialing, and more. This Policy Learning Symposium will cover many of these topics.


The Policy Impact Center will select up to 40 participants for this nonpartisan event, prioritizing staff from legislative offices or committees with expressed interest in supporting the improvement of maternal and child health outcomes in their state. Priority will be given to participants from states that have not yet enacted comprehensive community-based doula policies. Depending on the level of interested applicants able to join the symposium, participation may be opened to statewide advocates working in early childhood policy.


Selected participants are required to commit, attend, and actively engage in the 3-day Policy Learning Symposium. Participants must acknowledge that they have received the necessary approvals from their employer before their application is accepted.


Please direct all inquiries, including questions on the application process or the Policy Learning Symposium, to

About the Policy Impact Center

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, housed within Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, is a nonpartisan research center dedicated to supporting evidence-based policymaking in the field of early childhood development. We track emerging evidence, conduct original research, and monitor state-level policy activity to inform effective and equitable policies that strengthen families and promote optimal outcomes for children. A state doula policy is one of the 12 effective solutions identified in the Policy Impact Center’s annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap.

The Policy Impact Center is led by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Policy at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. The Center employs over 30 researchers, policy experts, and leaders of our communications and outreach efforts. Staff work remotely in 14 states across the US.