In addition to the rigorous evaluations of the MOMS Partnership® (see our Impact page for more), we engage in research to inform how we design and refine the program - and share what we're learning with the field.

The MOMS Partnership® Needs Assessment

In 2010, the MOMS Partnership began its work in New Haven by asking mothers themselves about what they need and want for their own lives and their families' futures. To date, we've interviewed over 4,000 women, and what we learn has helped us design a program that is truly responsive to what many in our target population are experiencing.

Specifically, after interviewing 1,112 moms, we found the following factors placed mothers at high risk for poor outcomes for themselves and their children (ranked in order):

  • Poverty, not specifically defined by mothers as lack of money, but rather defined as tangible, basic needs related to parenting-diapers, food, child care, clothing, and unstable housing;
  • Social isolation; and
  • High levels of maternal mental illness or "stress," defined by mothers to include psychiatric symptoms and actual depressive, anxiety and addictive disorders.

You can see direct links between these findings and the design of the MOMS Partnership model. For example, three of the four MOMS interventions are group-based to help stimulate social connection.

Download the Needs Assessment Questionnaire: English

Download the Needs Assessment Questionnaire: Spanish


A key part of what we do is generating and sharing knowledge. We are committed to not only using data internally to design and refine our model to serve women as effectively as possible - but we are also committed to helping the field learn alongside with us.

Brief on Adverse Childhood Experiences

Brief on Adverse Childhood Experiences among Parenting Women in New Haven

Selected Articles

  1. Smith MV, Cavaleri MA, Howell HB, Poschman K, Rosenheck, BA, Yonkers, KA, "Screening for and  detection of depression, panic, and PTSD in public-sector obstetrical clinics.Psychiatric Services 55: 407-414, 2004.
  2. Yonkers KA, Smith MV, Brunetto W, Cavaleri MA, "Recognizing depression in gynecologic patients." Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology 49 (6), 2004.
  3. Smith MV, Brunetto W, Yonkers, KA, "Identifying perinatal depression--sooner is better." Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology 49 (4): 58-79, 2004.
  4. Smith MV, Poschman K, Cavaleri MA, Howell HB, Yonkers KA, "Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in a community sample of low-income pregnant women." American Journal of Psychiatry 163 (5): 881-4, 2006.
  5. Feinberg E, Smith MV, Morales MJ, Claussen AH, Smith DC, Perou R. "Improving women's health during internatal periods: Developing an evidenced-based approach to addressing maternal depression in pediatric settings." Journal of Women's Health 15 (6): 692-703, 2006.
  6. Rogal S, Belanger K, Smith MV, Poschman K, Medina JA, Yonkers KA. "Effects of posttraumatic stress disorder on pregnancy outcomes." Journal of Affective Disorders 102: 137-143, 2007.
  7. Yonkers KA, Smith MV, Lin H, Howell H, Shao L, Rosenheck R. "Depression Screening in Perinatal Women: An Evaluation of the Healthy Start Depression Initiative." Psychiatric Services 60 (3): 322-328, 2009.
  8. Feinberg E, Smith MV, Naik, R. "Ethnically Diverse Mothers' Views on the Acceptability of Screening for Depressive Symptoms during Pediatric Well-Child Visits." Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved 20(3): 780-797, 2009.
  9. Yonkers KA, Smith MV, Gotman N, Belanger K. "Typical Somatic Symptoms of Pregnancy and Their Impact on a Diagnosis of Major or Minor Depressive Disorder.General Hospital Psychiatry 31(4): 327-333, 2009.
  10. Spoozak L, Gotman N, Smith MV,  Belanger K, Yonkers KA. "Evaluation of a social support measure that may indicate risk of depression during pregnancy." Journal of Affective Disorders 114 (1-3): 216-223, 2009.
  11. Smith MV, Shao L, Howell H, Wang H, Poschman K, Yonkers KA. "Success of mental health referral among pregnant and postpartum women with psychiatric distress." General Hospital Psychiatry 31(2): 155-162, 2009.
  12. Smith MV, Gotman N, Lin H, Yonkers KA. "Do the PHQ-8 and the PHQ-2 Accurately Screen for Depressive Disorders in a Sample of Pregnant Women?" General Hospital Psychiatry 32 (5): 544-548, 2010.
  13. Smith MV and Lincoln AK. "Integrating social epidemiology into public health research and practice: the case of maternal depression." American Journal of Public Health, Published Ahead of Print on April 14, 2011, as 10.2105/AJPH.2010.196576
  14. Smith MV, Shao L, Lin H, Howell H, Yonkers KA. "Perinatal depression and birth outcomes in a Healthy Start project." Maternal and Child Health Journal 15(3):401-409, 2011.
  15. Yonkers KA, Gotman N, Smith MV, Forray A, Belanger K, Brunetto W, Lin H, Burkman RT,  Zelop CM, Lockwood CJ. "Does Antidepressant Use Attenuate The Risk Of A Major Depressive Episode In Pregnancy?" Epidemiology 2011:22; 848-854.
  16. Yonkers KA,  Norwitz ER, Smith MV, Lockwood CJ,  Gotman N, Lin H, Luchansky E, Belanger K. "Major depressive disorder and serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment as risk factors for preterm birth." Epidemiology, 2012 Sep;23(5):677-85
  17. Smith MV, Mayes LC, Sung A, Shah B, , Klein DS, Yonkers KA. "Neurobehavioral Assessment of Infants Born at Term and In Utero Exposure to Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors." Early Human Development, 2012 (20): S0378-3782.

Case Reports, Technical Notes

  1. Smith MV, Yonkers KA "Mood disorders in perinatal women." American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) Precis, May, 2005.

In Press/Under Review

  1. Smith MV, Feinberg E, Silverstein M. "The role of violence and trauma in organizing community resources to address depression in mothers: an argument for a broader policy focus." Archives of Women's Mental Health
  2. Sullivan B, Leone M, Smith MV. "A systematic review of the effects of parental posttraumatic stress disorder on child health." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
  3. Smith MV, Gotman N, Yonkers KA. "Early childhood adversity and pregnancy outcomes." American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  4. Smith MV, Costello D, Gotman N, Yonkers KA. "Clinical Correlates of Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use in Pregnancy." Obstetrics & Gynecology
  5. Claydon E, Kruse A, Smith MV. "Linking obesity prevention, addiction and mental health promotion in community-based participatory research with low-income, minority women." Journal of healthcare for poor and underserved
  6. Seil K, Desai M, Smith MV. "Sexual orientation, adult connectedness, and risk behaviors among adolescents: findings from the 2009 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey." American Journal of Public Health
  7. Smith MV, Kruse A. "A gender-informed model to train community health workers in maternal mental health." Journal of Evaluation and Program Planning in press
  8. Smith MV, Kruse A, Weir A, Golblum J. "Defining diaper need and its impact on maternal and child mental health." Pediatrics

Embracing 2-Gen: Findings from the District of Columbia’s TANF Survey

As part of our collaboration with the Washington, DC, Department of Human Services (DHS) to replicate MOMS in DC, we have assisted DC DHS with a survey of parents who receive benefits through DC’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In April 2018, a new Two-Generation (2-Gen) Policy took effect, ushering in a set of reforms to better serve both parents and children. With philanthropic support, MOMS is providing DHS free technical assistance – specifically in designing the survey, developing the methodology, and analyzing the data in partnership with DHS -- to assess the impact of these policy changes at baseline and in future years on financial, health, and well-being indicators.

Conducted in Spring 2018, the baseline survey of 565 DC customers receiving TANF serves as a point of comparison for the effects of 2-Gen Policy, but it also provides insights that can help DHS and MOMS best meet the needs of families. For example, we found that the majority of customers actually screened positive for depressive symptoms indicative of clinical depression (60%) despite nearly half reporting their emotional health as “Excellent” or “Good.” In our final report “Embracing 2-Gen: Findings from the District of Columbia’s TANF Survey,” we describe both the details of our findings and recommendations for how this information can guide future initiatives.

You can read the full report here.

We look forward to continuing to partner with DHS to tailor MOMS to meet the needs in DC surfaced by this survey.

Diaper Need

Diaper Need graphic

More to come