UAMS, Community Groups Discuss Helping Housing Insecure Pregnant Women

By Ashley McNatt


Conference attendees listening to the keynote address.Bryan Clifton

Over 200 community leaders, faith leaders, students, educators, researchers, health care workers, mothers impacted by homelessness, and organizations who provide services for the homeless gathered to discuss solutions for this important topic.

The conference addressed research priorities to support the health and well-being of pregnant women and infants facing housing insecurity.

“Our goal is to support pregnant women and their babies,” said conference committee chair Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., RN, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion and associate professor in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. “We want them to be able to find secure housing and other resources to remain healthy and keep their babies healthy too.”

Opening remarks were given by Stephanie Gardner, Pharm. D., Ed.D., UAMS provost and chief strategy officer, and Cemeka Agugbuem Smith, Ph.D., executive director of the Arkansas FAITH Network.

The morning speaker was Laverne Morrow Carter, Ph.D., founder, president and chief project director of Research, Evaluation and Social Solutions, Inc., a premier research firm in Virginia.

Keynote speakers Cynthia Crone, M.N.Sc., APRN, and Ruthie Hokans discussed the progress of the Home Together grant project, which


Ruthie Hokans, talks about CAFSI and their participation in the Home Together project.Bryan Clifton

provides homeless and near homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children access to behavioral health services.

The project seeks to increase the capacity of service providers to engage with homeless and housing insecure pregnant women as well as mothers of children ages 0-5 who have a serious mental illness or co-occurring disorder. Additionally, the project aims to improve access to and family acceptance of a coordination of care approach.

“We wanted to build on existing partnerships that are already in Arkansas,” said Crone. “So we decided to collaborate with Our House, specifically the Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute (CAFSI), and the services they provide.”

Crone is an assistant professor in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health and the principal investigator on the project.

“We are using a systems and family-focused approach that seeks to integrate all health services — behavioral health, primary care, prenatal care, and other specialty health services — with social supports and skills building,” said Crone.

“The core goals of CAFSI are to strive towards family stability in the areas of housing, employment, financial empowerment, education and emotional wellness,” said Hokans, lead case manager for CAFSI.

“To date, 84 families have enrolled in the project since January,” Crone said.

The CAFSI program has also expanded by hiring mental health therapists and identifying processes for working with families.

The afternoon speaker was Rev. Earl T. Howerton Jr., M.Div., senior pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church in Oak Grove, Virginia, who has worked for 17 years in housing and community development.

The conference was a collaboration between the Arkansas FAITH (Faith-Academic Initiatives for Transforming Health) Network, the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, Our House, Better Community Development, the UAMS Translational Research Institute, and the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.

The conference was partially funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award Initiative Notice (EAIN) award #1283.