State advocacy

The March of Dimes volunteers and staff work to influence both legislative and regulatory activities in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico - serving as powerful voices for the needs of pregnant women, infants, children and families.  Our efforts span the full range of our annual Advocacy & Government Affairs priorities, including access to care, research and surveillance, prevention and education, and issues important to tax-exempt organizations.

State advocacy priorities and wins 2016

View our interactive map to learn more about policy priorities and wins in your state. 

In 2017, the March of Dimes has worked in many states to support policies to reduce neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and we are working to improve care, prevention, and treatment for mother and baby when substance use occurs during pregnancy.

The use or abuse of many illegal or prescription drugs during pregnancy can have serious consequences for both mother and infant.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) refers to cases where newborns experience drug withdrawal shortly after birth due to exposure to a controlled substance in utero. In the case of opioids, NAS can result from the use of prescription drugs as legitimately prescribed, from the abuse of prescription drugs, or from the use of illegal opioids like heroin.

Some pregnant women who are addicted to opioids or other drugs may not seek prenatal care until late in pregnancy, if at all, because they fear stigmatization or worry that their newborn will be taken away. The March of Dimes has played a critical role in efforts in several states to address NAS to allow opportunities for substance-using pregnant women to seek treatment and care for themselves and their newborn. Below are a few examples of these policies.

  • Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming passed legislation that will develop plans of safe care for infants while not punishing women for use of drugs during pregnancy.
  • Missouri established a $1.4 million pilot program under Medicaid to reduce the prevalence of NAS and focus on providing clinical and case management support for pregnant women who display key risk factors that indicate a potential for addiction.  The pilot is funded through a $500,000 state appropriation with $900,000 in federal matching funds.
  • Georgia required drug treatment centers to give priority admission to pregnant women; Indiana established pilot programs for residential treatment of pregnant women and infants and home visitation services following in-patient treatment; and Wyoming created a contract program for mental health and substance use programs at community health centers, which will provide more access to treatment for pregnant women.
  • The Massachusetts Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome released a report identifying 12 gaps and 60 recommendations to reduce NAS and improve prevention and treatment.

The March of Dimes remains committed to working with state policymakers and stakeholders across the country to improve access to comprehensive services and provide priority access and effective prevention and treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome.

March of Dimes has also advocated successfully to improve maternal and child health on issues like prematurity prevention, newborn screening, immunizations, access to care, Zika, and much more. Learn more about NAS

Below are just a few examples of fact sheets and issue briefs used in successful state advocacy efforts.

See also: Advocacy and Government Affairs Issues and Priorities, State Advocacy Priorities & Wins MapFederal advocacyMarch of Dimes Foundation Data Book for Policy Makers and Peristats.