VP Kamala Harris discusses maternal health in South LA

Vice President Kamala Harris returned to Los Angeles Friday and toured a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing supplies and support to needy new mothers, while also announcing a federal partnership aimed at improving maternal health.

Harris touched down at Los Angeles International Airport around 1 p.m. and was taken by motorcade to the headquarters of the nonprofit Baby2Baby, which provides baby supplies to low-income mothers locally and nationally, and also offers information on available government support resources.

Harris met with a group of mothers during the visit, and announced a partnership between the nonprofit and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will distribute Newborn Supply Kits — including essential goods and maternal health items — to new moms.

"There are approximately 8 million women in our country right now who do not have Medicaid coverage who are of childbearing years," Harris said during her visit. "And when we look at the challenges that a new mom faces, they are immense. One of the biggest issues that this group is ... addressing is the issue of diapers. One in three families that need diapers don't have them.

"And let's understand what that means. First of all, it is about meeting the essential needs of a newborn, of a baby. It is also then, obviously, about what that does in terms of the anxiety, the stress, the emotional harm to that parent and to that mother, in particular."

HHS on Friday also introduced a website at www.hhs.gov/newbaby providing information about federal resources and information on topics including health, feeding, child development and sleeping.

"The disparities in maternal and neonatal health care in this country are staggering — and unacceptable," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "The pilot program with Baby2Baby provides much needed supplies to mothers and their newborns. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to use every lever available to address the disparities in our health care system and provide whole-person care to pregnant people and their families. This is another strong example of government working in partnership with leaders in the community to solve problems for the American people."

(Getty Images)

Baby2Baby co-CEOs Norah Weinstein and Kelly Sawyer Patricof issued a joint statement saying they "want to ensure that new moms have everything they need to get their babies' lives started off on the right track. When we can provide these critical items, not only can mothers pay their rent and put food on the table, but it helps their mental health by alleviating the stress of meeting their children's most basic needs."

The first 3,000 Newborn Supply Kits will be distributed to mothers in Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. The kits include hygiene items, blankets and thermometers for newborns, lotions, cold backs, breastfeeding items and other supplies.

It was unclear how long Harris will remain in the area, although she lives in Brentwood and often spends time at home while in Los Angeles.

Harris was in Los Angeles in mid-April, when she spent five days in the area. During that visit, she toured the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and discussed efforts to build a "clean energy economy." She also spoke outside Los Angeles City Hall following a march for reproductive rights.

She had been scheduled to make an appearance at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday for a town hall meeting marking Mental Health Action Day. The Los Angeles Times reported that Harris pulled out of the event in a show of solidarity with striking Writers Guild of America members.