University–Community Collaboration to Promote Healthy Mothers and Infants: The Relationships and Parenting Support (RAPS) Program

Patricia Hrusa Williams, Linda M. Oravecz


Research highlights the vulnerability of Black mothers and their infants, who experience higher rates of stress, preterm birth, low birth weight, and infant mortality than other racial groups. This article describes the development and implementation of the Relationships and Parenting Support (RAPS) Program, a community-based, family-focused stress reduction program for expectant and new mothers and their support partners. Program participants lived in an urban, isolated, African-American community in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. University faculty and community members worked together to examine the problem of teen pregnancy, neighborhood risks to the well-being of mothers and infants, and programmatic strategies to support families. Qualitative and quantitative data for the RAPS Program suggested benefits to program participants but also challenges in effectively carrying out community-engaged scholarship efforts. Lessons learned in developing and implementing this project are discussed.

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