CDC Levels of Care Assessment ToolSM (CDC LOCATeSM)

Risk-Appropriate Care

Risk-appropriate care is a strategy to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and infants. States may develop coordinated regional systems to help ensure that pregnant women and infants at high risk of complications receive care at a birth facility that is best prepared to meet their health needs. For example, pregnant women with severe heart conditions need care at facilities that have a full range of specialists available to help care for complex medical conditions. Infants born before 32 weeks gestation should be cared for at facilities with specialized health care providers and equipment to care for infants who are born too early or who are critically ill.

CDC Levels of Care Assessment ToolSM

Definitions and monitoring of levels of care vary widely among states. To address this issue, CDC developed the CDC Levels of Care Assessment ToolSM (LOCATeSM). This web-based tool helps states and other jurisdictions create standardized assessments of levels of maternal and neonatal care. CDC LOCATeSM is based on the most recent guidelines and policy statements issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Review Frequently Asked Questions about CDC LOCATeSM.

If you are interested in participating in or have questions about CDC LOCATeSM, e-mail

Use of CDC LOCATeSM is free.

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The Participating States & Success Stories

The CDC LOCATeSM Process

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An agency or organization serving as a state champion for CDC LOCATeSM identifies stakeholders to help encourage birth facilities to use the CDC LOCATeSM tool.

The champion builds relationships with facilities to work toward statewide participation.


The champion sends the CDC LOCATeSM web link to facilities in the state and follows up with those that don’t respond.


The champion sends data to CDC to analyze.

CDC assesses levels of maternal and neonatal care and sends back results that can be used and shared as desired.

How CDC LOCATeSM Data Are Used

CDC LOCATeSM produces standardized assessments that allow participating states to see levels of care by facility, and the distribution of staff and services throughout the state. States can combine CDC LOCATeSM data with public health surveillance data, including vital records and hospital discharge data.

These data allow for more detailed analyses that support understanding of:

  • Maternal and infant health outcomes by level of care.
  • The relationship between the volume of services provided by a facility and maternal and infant health outcomes.

CDC LOCATeSM is designed to be used by public health decision makers. This tool can create opportunities for informed conversations among partners who work in the area of risk-appropriate care. Examples of these partners include state and local public health departments, state perinatal quality collaboratives (PQCs), hospital associations, and health care providers working in maternal and neonatal care. The results from CDC LOCATeSM are a starting point for discussions about how states can improve health outcomes for women and infants.

CDC LOCATeSM and CDC Levels of Care Assessment ToolSM are service marks of the US Department of Health and Human Services.