February 23, 2024

A research report published this month found that our perinatal promotora training made an impact and highlighted the need for more trainings aimed at community health workers in farmworker communities. Back in 2023, WorkLife Law piloted a comprehensive training program in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Promotores Network, CAUSE, WIC, and the UC Global Health Institute. Now, there is evidence that California communities need more of these trainings to create long lasting change for pregnant farmworkers.

The new report, “Maternal Health Rights for Farmworker Women,” published by a multidisciplinary team from UCSB, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, evaluated the community’s preexisting knowledge and practices, as well as the impact of our training and outreach. Lead researcher, Amelia Reese Masterson, from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health said:

Our evaluation underscores the importance of systems change to support farmworker maternal and child health. Pregnant farmworkers face many risks in the workplace, and a whole host of systemic barriers to getting pregnancy-related leave or workplace accommodations. Promotores, or community health workers, are peers who know how to listen, support, and advocate in their communities. 

After attending a Know Your Rights training early last year that included comprehensive workplace rights workshops presented by WorkLife Law, promotores reported increased confidence in sharing messages on maternal health and rights — and they have already made over a thousand contacts in the farmworker community, equipping campesinas with the tools to advocate for themselves in the health system, workplace, and social service system.

Prenatal pesticide exposure has been found to have detrimental health effects on pregnant people and their babies. And while California farmworkers have a legal right to take paid leave, most have neither the information or support needed to access it– leaving many to work until late in pregnancy due to economic pressures. Dar a Luz: Legal Rights in Pregnancy and Postpartum, an initiative between WorkLife Law and CAUSE, is working to change that. Over the course of two weekends, our team provided interactive trainings and practical know-your-rights resources on workplace accommodations, leave, income replacement, and anti-discrimination to a cohort of over 20 promotores (community health workers). 

After completing our training one promotor shared, 

“Me siento muy segura compartiendo toda la información y los derechos a los cuales debe tener acceso.”

“I feel very confident sharing all the information and rights to which you should have access.”

The new report recommended both expanded outreach to farmworker communities to provide low-literacy, visual and audio-visual resources in Spanish and Indigenous languages, as well as training, materials, and support for healthcare providers serving pregnant and postpartum farmworkers. Our Dar a Luz initiative is moving forward on both fronts, as we continue breaking down barriers and supporting farmworkers during and after pregnancy.

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