PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — In order to raise a child, they say it takes a village — something that not all new mothers have. A new facility in Petersburg aims to serve those new mothers.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, joined by state and community leaders, celebrated the opening of Virginia’s newest Urban Baby Beginnings Center, which is geared towards helping mothers, babies and families across the Petersburg area.

Candice McDaniel, a single mother and community advocate, says her kids are grown up now, but she’s been forever shaped by her experience navigating single motherhood.

“My own birthing story helped shape my desire to want to help those in my community,” McDaniel said. “Pregnancy is a joyous occasion, but there are also times when it is not very beautiful.”

McDaniel is eager for the fear and anxiety often felt by new parents to be eased with the opening of the facility, which is expected to reach 3,500 people.

The facility will include a resource bank, labor guidance, mental health support, newborn care and childhood education opportunities.

Youngkin said that Petersburg was chosen as the location for the facility because of the high infant mortality rates in the area. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Virginia had an average of 5.6 infant deaths per 1,000 births at the beginning of 2023, in Petersburg this rate was 10.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2020.

“Mortality rates are so much higher than the rest of Virginia,” Youngkin said. “Therefore, we have to go to work.”

The new Urban Baby Beginnings Center was made possible by a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.