A new website and app will provide a one-stop shop for mothers who are seeking financial aid options, healthcare resources, childcare, adoption, or pregnancy information in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance (MAMA) website is now up and running for mothers in the state looking for additional resources.
The program, implemented by the Mississippi Legislature in 2023 through SB 2781, is housed in the Attorney General’s office. The website and mobile app are intended to connect pregnant women and new mothers with resources in Mississippi.
According to the legislation authored by State Senator Bart Williams, the law requires the inclusion of resources, services and information through private organizations and public agencies. These resources are to be pulled together by the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) and overseen by the Attorney General’s office.
Senator Williams said the bill came after conversations with colleague Senator Nicole Boyd, who has chaired the Women, Children, and Families committee in the Senate, in hopes of providing real action to the pro-life agenda.
“We need to be doing something that brings the resources together. That was kind of the genesis of it,” said Williams. “To be anti-abortion is an opinion but to be pro-life is an action.”
Information will come from agencies like Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, the Department of Human Services, Department of Child Protective Services, Workforce Development, Employment Security and the Division of Medicaid. The site and app will also have links to county health departments.
The app outlines nine major categories: Pregnancy, Health, Adoption, Food, Goods, Safety, Money, Child Care, and Jobs.
Women who seek out services from MAMA can find ways to receive a free pregnancy test or ultrasound, as well as visit a center with baby essentials and even birthing and parenting classes. In addition, how to enroll in Medicaid or find healthcare resources is referenced as part of the site.
The site and app provides information on adoption agencies, how to receive food benefits, financial aid or government benefits, jobs and childcare options.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch said public and private entities who are interested in participating in the resource can fill out an application form at www.mama.ms.gov.
“It’s exciting because it’s public and private, bringing all the resources together to provide opportunities for the mother or mother-to-be to look right there and see what’s available,” said Fitch.
This program comes as part of The Empowerment Project, an initiative within the Attorney General’s office. The project has supported legislation to promote workplace flexibility, quality affordable childcare, address issues in the foster care and adoption system, and child support enforcement.
“We think about goods and as mothers you’re going to need a lot of goods. Whether it’s diapers or wipes, cribs and strollers. It helps them have access to that,” said Fitch.
She added there is a safety component to the resource as well, giving women information on how to seek out legal counsel or domestic violence assistance.
Fitch said the website will give women and families the ability to access available jobs and workforce development programs that will aid them in the pursuit of a career and financial ability to provide for themselves and their families. She emphasized that none of the efforts are new programs, but rather existing resources. MAMA is merely a way of streamlining the search process to locate the resources most needed.
“Again, trying to look at every level that might uplift and empower these mothers to be and certainly provide assistance to their children,” said Fitch.
The mobile app is expected to launch in January 2024.