I was on a Healthy People 2020 webinar today and learned that this week is National Women’s Health Week. The webinar, “Who’s Leading the Leading Health Indicators?” focused on maternal, infant and child health. BUILD’s work on health equity had already made me familiar with the horror of infant mortality statistics in the United States and the extremely troubling, ongoing disparities between preterm births among Black and White mothers as well as the infant mortality rate disparities—twice as high among African American babies as white babies. I had even heard about many of the efforts in Ohio to reduce infant mortality (although I learned great deal about Cradle Cincinnati). BUILD is well-aligned with the webinar speakers’ emphasis on the multiple, interconnected factors that can lead to preterm births and infant mortality and the need for multi-pronged, collaborative, collective approaches focused on shared goals and outcomes.
I have always been wary of the focus on maternal smoking, drinking, or drug use because it can sound like just another way to place the blame on women who have often faced barriers to education, decent-paying jobs, stable housing, etc.
The focus of the webinar, however, was on the multiple factors that contribute to pregnancy outcomes from the mother’s socioeconomic status to maternal conditions—including psychological stress—as well as risky or unsafe behaviors. We need to address what research has uncovered: a person’s zip code has greater bearing on health outcomes and life expectancy than do genes. This is about the impact of access – or the lack thereof – to opportunity. It is also about racism. Research studies have repeatedly documented that psychological stress as a result of racial discrimination contributes to racial health disparities, on top of the ways in which racial discrimination impacts access to high-quality programs and services.
BUILD will continue its focus on the deep connections between early learning and health, and the clear interdependence between the well-being of the adults in a child’s life and the child’s own well-being; this is central to our early childhood systems-building framework. When we work on improving maternal and child health, let’s remember to include work on combatting racism, which diminishes everyone and is also central to the development of effective systems that promote adult and child well-being.
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Download the webinar PowerPoint presentation here.
Report February 1, 2023
The BUILD Initiative is a national effort that advances state work on behalf of young children (prenatal through five), their families, and communities. BUILD staff partner with early childhood state leaders focused on early learning, health and nutrition, mental health, child welfare, and family support and engagement to create the policies, infrastructure, and cross-sector connections necessary for quality and equity. BUILD provides consultation, planning, and tailored implementation assistance, learning opportunities, resources, and cross-state peer exchanges. These efforts help state leaders improve and expand access to quality and promote equitable outcomes for our youngest children.
Blog January 31, 2023
BUILD recently interviewed five parent leaders about their experience in parent coalitions. In addition to reminding us of the need to address implicit bias on behalf of all families and children, they provided their thoughts on ways to ensure the coalitions fulfill their purpose and best meet the needs of families, and whether there’s room for improvement in the way they function. Here’s what they told us.
Archived Meeting Resources January 31, 2023
States are making significant advancements in their quality improvement systems (QIS) as they look for solutions to widen the aperture and fully embrace a mixed-delivery system that will best serve children, families, and the early care and education workforce. To achieve this, QIS policies need to become more flexible and create different pathways to quality, including a variety of established, high-quality delivery models. In this session participants heard how Montessori programs are working with state leaders from Illinois, Michigan, and Washington to be part of the QIS.