Melissa Franklin

  • Free Tax Preparation Workshop

    Free Tax Preparation: March 19th and 26th

    10am - 2pm on Zoom

    New for 2021! The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is now worth $6,660 * California's CalEITC has increased to $3,027 and is now available to who earned up to $30,000 * CalEITC recipients with a dependent under 6 years old may receive an additional $1,000 from the new Young Child Tax Credit!

    APPOINTMENT REQUIRED - See details and registration link below

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  • Fatherhood Support Groups

    Fathers and partners benefit from having their own Village to equip them for their fatherhood journey. Having support from friends, family, mentors, healthcare workers, colleagues, and advisors plays an important role in ensuring healthy and joyous births. Fathers are not only protectors and providers for their families, but they can also be the most powerful advocates for their partners before, during, and after birth when they have tools, information, and resources. The Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative has invested in programs designed to specifically engage Black fathers: Black Daddy Dialogue and the Expecting Fathers Group for Black Dads, led by and for Black dads.

    Help us in amplifying the messaging and awareness of AAIMM’s Fatherhood initiatives* as we highlight fathers and partners as key members of the village of support for expectant moms/birthing persons, and also as those greatly benefiting from their own village of support. Get started by checking out the profiles of some of the amazing Black fathers who encompass the AAIMM Village, join one of our support groups, or get information and resources that will help you create, cultivate, and activate your own Village as a dad or partner. Please also share this information with anyone who may need it. Together, we can #BeTheVillage of support for Black fathers and their families in an effort to end the unjustly high maternal and infant deaths in Los Angeles County and usher in healthy and joyous births for all. 

    Shout out to our Fatherhood Program Leads: Davion Mauldin, Fatherhood Coordinator, Perinatal Equity Initiative Division of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, Health Promotion Bureau, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and LeHenry Solomon, MFT.

    Follow @blackinfantsandfamiliesla on Instagram for updates and use #AAIMM, #BlackDadsMatter, #BlackFatherhood, #DadsNeedAVillageToo, and #BeTheVillage to share your fatherhood journey with us. 

    *This campaign is being made possible through the California Department of Public Health’s Perinatal Initiative (PEI) funding. This publication was made possible by State of California General Funds. Contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the California Department of Public Health or State of California.










    - New sessions begin every month



    The Expecting Fathers Group is designed specifically for Black soon-to-be fathers and provides education, support and navigation tools for the prenatal, labor and delivery, postpartum and early parenting periods.

    This group runs for 5 (five) consecutive weeks. With the knowledge gained and community created in the group, expectant dads can best support their birthing partners, work to reduce stress, and prepare for baby and family bonding.

    Expecting Fathers Group is led by Davion Mauldin, MS, DPH Fatherhood Coordinator. 

    To sign up for our Free Zoom workshops, please email: [email protected]






    An open forum, drop-in platform for expectant, new and experienced fathers that propels their proactive engagement in their children’s and partners’ lives. The group creates a safe space for growth, feeding the mind, body and spirit of fathers as they raise their children and support their partners. 

    Black Daddy Dialogue
     meets virtually every second Wednesday of the month, led by LeHenry Solomon, LMFT (DPH Fatherhood Consultant) and co-facilitated by Davion Mauldin, MS (DPH Fatherhood Coordinator) and Jason Dawson, MPH (DPH Center for Health Equity).



    Q & A With Davion Mauldin, DPH Fatherhood Coordinator


    We recently asked Davion Mauldin, MS, Los Angeles Department of Public Health Fatherhood Coordinator, a few questions about his fatherhood journey. We hope his answers will inspire you and give insight into the incredibly important role that fathers play in the lives of their children. Davion also heads the Expecting Fathers Group for Black Dads, which has a new five-week educational workshop kicking off on Tuesday, January 25.


    What does being a father mean to you?

    Being a father to me means providing all that my child needs to be healthy and happy while being vulnerable enough to know when I need help providing those things so she is always loved and cared for the way she deserves. 


    How has fatherhood changed your life?

    Fatherhood changed my life for the better. It added a person in my life who has challenged me to continuously grow daily and learn to adapt to the ever-changing world she is growing up in. No day is the same, no lesson too small to learn, no problem is too big to handle, and I learned that from her. 


    Read More


    Are you an expectant Black father, or do you have one in your Village? Sign up for the FREE Expecting Father Group Zoom workshops by emailing Davion at: [email protected]. Please also feel free to share this information with your Village.







  • Meet the Black Infants and Families Doulas

    Los Angeles County has launched a Doula pilot project to support Black/African American families in having access to a health and joyous birth. We'd like you to meet them...

    Doulas are professional childbirth companions who provide emotional support, physical comfort, education and advocacy to women and persons during pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn period. Doula support can reduce medical interventions, including c-sections, improve your mood and satisfaction with your birth experience, and increase your breastfeeding success! Doula support can be provided while maintaining social distancing guidance.

    For more information on the doula pilot, contact Nakeisha Robinson at [email protected] or (213) 637-8466.

    Bethany Benson


    My name is Bethany M. Benson! I am from South Central LA a wife and mother of three beautiful children and 4 angels up above. My passion is working with moms who experience loss and need grief support (specifically miscarriages/stillbirths/ infant and maternal mortality.) As it has been my own experience 4 times, I realized how strong I was through the process and I want to be strong for families in need. My motto is “A women’s body is created to naturally birth babies we were built for this!” and you deserve to have the birth you want, but today that takes support (choose your village)

    I have worked in maternal and infant health for 15 years as a breastfeeding peer counseling and nutrition assistant.

    I have been a labor/postpartum doula for 5 years trained through Cappa

    Certified Breastfeeding Counselor (CLE) through UC San Diego extension program! I am also a support group facilitator for African American groups in LA county. Breastfeedla train the trainer LES program scholarship recipient. I am dedicated to serving you (Ibad) which is servant in Hebrew) so that you can have the best birth outcome you desire! Peace Love and Joy.


    Carla Clark

    My name is Carla and I was raised in the Inland Empire within the city of Pomona. I am a mother of three and I am aware of the necessity of support during labor. My desires are to work with children and families, and this initiated my career in social work. I wanted a more personal relationship with families while exploring birthing and babies, I decided to take a different career route as a full spectrum doula. A full spectrum doula can provide both labor and postpartum doula services for a "full spectrum" of doula care.

    I obtained a master’s in social work from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) in 2014 and is currently a Children’s Social Worker, providing case management services to children who are medically fragile and/or with special needs. My work within this agency has allowed for a wealth of knowledge on community resources and programs, of which disseminates to families. I have served on several committees, one of which included focusing on eliminating racial disparity and disproportion in the child welfare system. I also obtained training with Shafia Monroe Consulting. The Full Circle Doula Training® is an intensive 30-hour (3.5 days) prenatal, labor and postpartum doula training course.

    In addition, I have done volunteer work for several organizations, including ‘Alternate Avenues’, where I assisted with the intake of incoming pregnant patients for medical services. Doula’s often advise women of nutritional needs during pregnancy, which may be hard to obtain for disadvantaged working families. As Communications Director for the non-profit organization, Hammer Hunger Inc., she is an incredibly valuable resource to the organization and the families served. Her wealth of knowledge and experience dealing with the needs of working families helps bring about strong solutions-based results. My compassion towards children and families has guided me to work within this organization for eradicating hunger in the working family’s household.

    I am also a firm believer that with the proper support and education and mother can have a joyous birthing experience.


    Felicia Frances-Edwards


    Being a Doula is my passion. Being allowed to attend and support a birth is a sacred honor. I’ve worked in Maternal Child Health for more than 30 years and officially became a Doula in 2012. Over this time, I have attended over 30 births. A Doula is a true servant who assists the woman and her support team to experience labor and delivery with as much support as possible.  I support the client’s partner, family and friends as they support the woman. For many thinking about labor and delivery evokes anxiety and fear. People feel compelled to share their worse labor experiences with pregnant women; these stories often imply that having a baby is torture. As a Doula I’ve learned that labor can be hard work and very painful, but it doesn’t mean that the woman must suffer. I bring my training and experience to the table to assist the woman and her partner, family and friends cope during the labor process. Using massage, soothing music, breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and various positions to offer relief during labor. My primary role is to empower the woman to have the birth experience she desires and to be there for her if what she wants changes.

    Again, I say attending a birth is a gift, honor and a privilege. In the end I want the woman’s experience to be enhanced by my presence and walk away from each birth knowing I’ve given my best.


    Jordan Smith

    My name is Jordan Smith. I became a doula after the birth of my second son where I was inspired by birth work and desired to share this work with all families. I am passionate about birth and labor and love to bring healing and empowerment to families during this time. I heal through my hands, my voice, my love. I am a woman, mother, doula, yoga instructor, and a nurse but deeper than all my “titles” I am joy, hope, passion, love, I am a creative. I look forward to using my passion to help families through one of the most vulnerable times!


    Keisha Smith-Spears


    My name is Keisha Smith-Spears. I am a Doula specializing in birth and death transitions. I always envisioned myself working in the medical field nurturing those in need. I began my medical career working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Tucson Arizona. Since my humble beginnings in healthcare, I acquired extensive knowledge working in all Acute Care Hospital Units. Once my life’s journey led me to care for patients in Pediatrics and Postpartum, my interest began to gravitate towards Doula work.

    My spiritual path has led me to “trench work”; working with at risk mom and babies. Providing care and support for at risk population is my passion. My goal is to center my Doula work around the homeless and Mental Health population(s).



    Latrice Matthews

    Hi! My name is Latrice and I am a professionally trained Certified Birth and Post-Partum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and a Certified Lactation Educator.

    I have more than 20 years of professional experience supporting women and families moving through stages and phases of parenthood.  I have deep passion for improving birth outcomes, and I also advocate for informed decision making and I use evidence-based literature and practices throughout perinatal care.    

    In the community, I have volunteered to do Doula support for Mission Hills’ Black Infant Health. Additionally, I facilitated breastfeeding classes and support groups for Soul Food for Your Baby and I continue to guest lecture at California State University, Northridge on Women’s Health.


    Maryam Abdu

              My name is Maryam Abdul Karim. I like to call myself miss Ab-doula because I feel called to this work. As a birth doula, it nourishes my soul to know that I can bring ease and comfort to Black birthing folks. I believe Black birthing people deserve the birth experience they want. It excites me to see Black pregnant folks so excited to plan and prepare for the delivery of their baby. I assist them throughout that process by helping prepare the birth plan, provide massages, breathing techniques, equip them with resources, and reminding them of their divine power. 


    Mercedez Johnson

    My name is Mercedez. I am a trained Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am pursing a degree in Nursing. My future goal is to become a midwife. With my experience and knowledge, I plan on reducing racial disparities in the Los Angeles County along with my team.

    I'm a mother of 3 loving boys. I've became a birth worker after my own pregnancies as well as birth experiences. I was called to help, support, and encourage birthing individuals to learn to trust themselves as well as their bodies. Growing a family is a beautiful time in one’s life and I'm looking forward to working with and making sure everyone has the best and memorable moments.


    Monique Cowan


    My name is Monique Cowan (also known as, Monique The Doula) and I am a Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am also the mother of a brilliant 8-year-old little girl, who is the inspiration for me to go through doula training. I also formally trained as a doula in 2011, after receiving the nurturing and support of a doula during my own pregnancy and childbirth but I have been doing the work of a doula since 2001, even before I knew what a doula was. I naturally cared for my friends and family members during and after their pregnancies. I have also has cared for babies and children since the age of 16.

    After I experienced Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, I understood the immense importance of postpartum care. After training to become a postpartum doula, I became an advocate and cheerleader for "the village"- the group of family and friends who surround the newborn's parents throughout pregnancy and beyond. I now train friends and family members to give optimal nurturing and support to new parents, whether they hire a doula or not.


    Syreeta Staples

    My name is Syreeta, and I am the mother of four beautiful children, I have been a Doula since 2007. After experiencing the unique nature of my own births, I became very clear that there was a dire need for education and empowerment for women to prepare for Childbirth. When my youngest child was only a few months old, I then began my mission towards becoming an advocate for women to be informed of their options to have healthier pregnancies and safer births.

    Additionally, I have received my initial training through I.C.T.C. (International Center for Traditional Childbearing) with Founder and Midwife, Shafia Monroe and became a Certified Full-Circle Doula. I later enrolled in The Hearts and Hands Midwifery Intensives with Midwife Educator, Elizabeth Davis. There I received certificates of completion for the beginning and advanced courses offered through the program. 

    Once I gained the necessary knowledge and skills through my formal training, I knew I was able to infuse my keen intuition and maternal experience to assist and empower many women on their journey to motherhood. I deeply believe in the philosophy of my first teacher Shafia Monroe, who advised: "When you save (and heal) a Mother, you save a whole community."


    Tamara Robertson


    Hi, my name is Tamara Robertson and I am a Holistic Birth & Postpartum Doula and I am a classically trained Chef, who has found passion and purpose in supporting Black/African American families in Los Angeles County.  I am the proud Mother of 4 & am a Navy veteran that was led to Birth work organically through intuition & dreams.  I have completed Birth worker training at Kindred Space LA through The Birthing People Foundation where I continue to receive support and mentorship from Kimberly Durdin (IBCLC, Student Midwife). My ultimate goal is to help heal and support my community, beginning with the womb.

    “If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious.” -BEY


    Tonya Michelle


    My name is Tonya Michelle and I am a dedicated birth and postpartum doula. I am passionate about cultivating awareness around the immeasurable benefits of conscious pregnancy and motherhood, through natural birthing practices and mind-body-baby connection.

    Originally from Virginia, I have spent over a decade in holistic health and wellness. My personal experience in self-healing and transformation led to my calling, to support women in accessing the strength and wisdom of her innate feminine design. I am committed to serving and empowering black women throughout their birthing journeys with tools for self-advocacy and developing trust in their intuition.

    In addition to my work in the birthing community, I am a Prenatal Yoga teacher, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher, and Self-care specialist, offering clients personalized instruction and healing guidance through soulful wellness practices. For more information









  • BMHW2020

    Black Maternal Health Week 2020

    BMHW was launched by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to create awareness and foster action to address Black Maternal Mortality (and to a degree Black Infant Mortality).

    Partners across our Countywide Network are planning several virtual events, acknowledging that our work has even deeper importance during this pandemic. Join us in celebrating and supporting joyous and healthy births. We're calling on everyone to become a village of support for pregnant people and families. Also planned are sessions on pregnancy and childbirth in light of COVID and what families can do to support the healthiest birth possible. Take the "We are the Village" Pledge Here.


    All events will be Broadcast on

    Facebook @BlackInfantsandFamilies or

    Instagram @blackinfantsandfamiliesla

    #BMHW2020 #CenteringBlackMamas #WeAreTheVillage

    BMWH2020 Virtual Events

    SLASB AAIMM CAT Presents VirtualiTEA Series - Facebook Live @blackinfantsandfamiliesla

    Black Women for Wellness  #BlackMamaMoxie Virtual Events – April 11-17, 2020 -

    Diversity Uplifts and March of Dimes – April 14, 2020 - Please RSVP by April 13th at:

    Mighty Little Giants – April 14, 2020 12PM PST - Facebook Live @mightylittlegiants

    National Events - Black Mamas Matter Alliance

    Black Mamas Matter Alliance is hosting a series of powerful webinars listed below. For more information, visit:

    Black Maternal Health and the U.S. COVID-19 Response

    April 13 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm EST/ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm PST

    Shifting and Advancing Black Maternal Health Policy | #BMHW20

    April 14 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST/ 11:00 am PST - 12:00 pm PST

    Improving Health Outcomes for Black Mamas through Holistic Midwifery Care | #BMHW20

    April 15 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST/11:00 am - 12:00 pm PST

    Centering Black Mamas: In Practice | #BMHW

    April 16 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST/11:00 am - 12:00 pm PST

Pritzker Fellow - End Black Infant & Maternal Mortality . CEO , Growth Mindset Comms Inc. Wife and mom #agentofchange #entrepreneur #southla #loveGodlovepple