urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Linking Depressed Mothers to Effective Services


Key Researchers

  • Olivia Golden, Urban Institute
  • Marla McDaniel, Urban Institute
  • William Beardslee,  Expert Consultant, Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School
  • Jennifer Macomber, Expert Consultant
  • Tracy Vericker, Urban Institute
  • Karina Fortuny, Urban Institute
  • Embry Howell, Urban Institute

Funding Partners

  • The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • The Birth to Five Alliance
  • The A.L. Mailman Family Foundation
The "Linking Depressed Mothers to Effective Services" research identifies service strategies and policy reforms that can help mothers, enhance young children's development, and prevent child abuse and neglect by connecting low-income depressed mothers of young children with treatment.

This project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, builds on prior research that shows why connecting these mothers to effective treatment is so important.  Research has already demonstrated that maternal depression is widespread among low-income mothers, and that if left untreated, it poses damage to young children's development.  Researchers have also shown that effective treatments exist, yet far too few mothers with depression receive them.

The goal of this project is to contribute to improvements in service systems and policies that dramatically improve mothers' receipt of effective treatment, thereby supporting young children's healthy development and preventing child abuse and neglect.  

Funded from 2008 through 2013, the Urban Institute team has produced several research and policy briefs around these issues, including a national estimate of the prevalence of depression among mothers with young children, a look at the role home visiting programs play in connecting depressed mothers to services and a discussion of state Medicaid and CHIP choices that can enhance delivery of medical, mental health, and related services to parents.

Currently the team is working on new research around state policy choices in Medicaid and CHIP, linkages between maternal depression and children's nutrition, and innovative approaches in WIC to support depressed mothers. The Urban Institute team is also collaborating with key policy makers at the federal level to advance the work on maternal depression and young children.


arrow Disconnected Mothers and the Well-Being of Children (Research Report)
Olivia GoldenMarla McDanielPamela J. LoprestAlexandra Stanczyk

arrow Depression in Low-Income Mothers of Young Children: Are They Getting the Treatment They Need? (Research Report)
Marla McDanielChristopher Lowenstein

arrow Emerging Opportunities for Addressing Maternal Depression under Medicaid  (Research Brief)
Embry M. HowellOlivia GoldenWilliam Beardslee

arrow The Impact of Mental Health Treatment on Low-Income Mothers' Work (Research Report)
Pamela J. LoprestAustin Nichols

arrow Home Visiting and Maternal Depression: Seizing the Opportunities to Help Mothers and Young Children (Research Report)
Olivia Golden, Amelia Hawkins, William Beardslee

arrow Infants of Depressed Mothers Living in Poverty: Opportunities to Identify and Serve (Policy Briefs)
Tracy Vericker, Jennifer Ehrle Macomber, Olivia Golden

arrow Improving the Lives of Young Children: Meeting Parents' Health and Mental Health Needs through Medicaid and CHIP So Children Can Thrive (Research Brief)
Olivia Golden, Karina Fortuny


arrow Infants of Depressed Mothers Living in Poverty (Video / Commentary)
Olivia Golden

arrow First Tuesday Presentation: Helping Depressed Low-Income Mothers Give Their Young Children a Good Start (Video / Event)

Related Projects

arrow Improving the Lives of Young Children: Increasing Referrals and Follow-Up Treatment in Medicaid and CHIP (Research Brief)
Jennifer Pelletier, Genevieve M. Kenney

arrow Improving the Lives of Young Children: The Role of Developmental Screenings in Medicaid and CHIP (Research Brief)
Genevieve M. Kenney, Jennifer Pelletier

arrow Improving The Lives Of Young Children: Opportunities For Care Coordination And Case Management For Children Receiving Services For Developmental Delay (Research Brief)
Carrie Hanlon

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