Sara Benning
Phone: 612-624-7349

Center of Excellence:
JIWC-specific areas of expertise: My Center helps convene a national network of MCHB-funded centers of faculty, staff and students doing work around justice-involved women and children.

Student opportunities available? Yes, Students must be enrolled in the UMN’s MCH graduate program.

Funding details: We’re in our 65th year of funding (2020) and one of 13 Centers of Excellence in MCH Education, Science and Practice funded by HRSA’s Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD):

What community-engaged JIWC work are you currently doing?

“My Center offers MCH students opportunities to work directly with non-profits and through coursework, such as developing and implementing a health literacy course for justice-involved women incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee (taught by Center faculty member and UMN MCH Program alumnae Dr. Rebecca Shlafer). Students have also produced materials on corrections officers’ knowledge and perspectives of MCH policies and programs for pregnant women in prison, and with creating a pregnancy resource guide for incarcerated mothers, which can help pregnant incarcerated women understand what to expect during their pregnancy, labor and birth, how to advocate for themselves, self-care, what to expect after the birth, etc. Partners have included the MN Prison Doula Project; representatives from corrections, human services, correctional health, and public health; the Minnesota Better Birth Coalition; Children’s Defense Fund, Minnesota; the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association (MSA; the Association of MN Counties among others, such as the University of Illinois-Chicago Center of Excellence in MCH.

What research-practice collaborations are you most excited to work on?

“I’m interested in learning more about how our Centers of Excellence in MCH can support the critical work being undertaken by the national network of prison doulas, including co-sponsoring another National Prison Doula Training ( I’m also eager to engage more students in these efforts.”