This blog, created with input from Darnell Byrd-McPherson, Executive Director, Darlington County First Steps and former BUILD Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN) Fellow, describes efforts to promote equity in the areas of health, early learning, and family support in Darlington County.
Advancing Racial Equity In Darlington County, South Carolina
By Mariana Florit, Communications Director at BUILD Initiative
Darlington County, South Carolina. These are the basics about the county: Nearly 42 percent Black or African-American. Fifty-six percent White. Less than two percent Latino. Median income of $34,773. Seventeen percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree. Thirteen percent of residents don’t have health insurance. Twenty-one percent of residents are living in poverty.
Darnell Byrd-McPherson would say that these statistics are simply, “the things that people see first.” Applying a racial equity lens to community solutions means more than analyzing and “fixing” the things people see first. Focusing on racial equity in communities, policies, and practice means that leaders are talking about, “how we look at ourselves, how we do business, how we are diverse, whether we are inclusive and equitable.” It means ensuring that all systems change strategies drive toward equitable opportunities for children and families.
Darnell Byrd-McPherson is the Executive Director Darlington County First Steps. The organization recently contributed to the development of the South Carolina Equity Assessment, and launched the Darlington County Men’s Health Collaborative. Darnell attributes the spark for the assessment and the collaborative to the influence of the BUILD Initiative project, Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN). The ELAN has been working since 2015 to advance racial equity in early childhood systems. ELAN fellows have sought to promote equity in the areas of health, early learning, and family support as well as to influence state-level policy. Darnell said, “The ELAN opened my eyes to all of the issues that people face. It has had a direct impact on how I lead and do my work.”
Building equity into communities, policies, and practice in Darlington County is concretely demonstrated here:
Darlington County Men’s Health Collaborative
In line with the BUILD Initiative and ELAN vision to promote equity in the areas of health, early learning, and family support, supporting men’s health is a priority for Darlington County First Steps. Health disparities in minority men are a national problem, stemming from a lack of access to care, low income, cultural incompetence in the medical field, and other barriers. By supporting the mental and physical health needs of minority men – fathers and family figures – Darlington County First Steps is strengthening families and communities in the county. Often, men are forgotten in family support, and the Men’s Health Collaborative will work to mitigate that.
South Carolina Racial Equity Impact Assessment Guide
In 2014, Darnell’s work at Darlington County First Steps crossed paths with state legislators. As an ELAN fellow and voice for equity in her community, Darnell specifically focused on the most vulnerable children and families in Darlington County. She was concerned that proposed policies were not addressing the needs of the people most at risk. In partnership with South Carolina Children’s Trust and Kids Count, the South Carolina Racial Equity Impact Assessment was developed and integrated into state policies to ensure that all children are given an opportunity to succeed. The assessment is a step-by-step manual for decision-makers, analysts, and organizations to evaluate policy impact by people’s race and ethnicity to determine how to advance equitable outcomes in the state.
Report November 15, 2023
This brief focuses on the ways that states are using PDG B-5 grant funding to create and sustain career pathways in the early care and education field. “Career pathways” are broadly defined here, referring to a wide range of activities that support prospective and current early educators in advancing in the profession. States’ initiatives span an early educator’s complete career trajectory, from strategies to recruit new candidates into the profession to initiatives that create new specializations for educators who want to propel their careers further.
Report November 1, 2023
PDG B-5 Planning and Renewal Grants are being used by states across a wide range of content areas in the early childhood care and education system, and in a variety of ways. The federal funding provides a systems framework and seeks to offer flexibility within that framework. States are using the federal funding to build capacity, create infrastructure, provide direct services, and pilot work that is new for them. This work is occurring within a broad framework provided by the federal government. This brief explores the choices that PDG B-5 grantees plan for the use of the financing provided, which has impact on the overall ECCE systems that they are building and implementing. Within PDG B-5, states had to demonstrate how they would allocate the financial resources available across required and discretionary activity categories. We can learn about their priorities from a look at the choices that they made.
Report October 16, 2023
The Children’s Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Prevent Child Abuse America have joined with parents, youth, and community organizations in their new initiative, Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-Being. The goal of the Thriving Families, Safer Children (TFSC) partnership, which spans the public, private, and philanthropic sectors, is to assist jurisdictions in creating a more just and equitable child and family well-being system that benefits all children and families and breaks harmful intergenerational cycles of trauma and poverty. Minnesota was selected in January 2021 as one of the jurisdictions to receive technical assistance through this initiative.