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.
Podcast January 19, 2022
Minnesota has gathered a group of community-based organizations and tribal nations to envision pathways to early childhood statewide systems. Host Karen Ponder and BUILD executive director Susan Hibbard discuss state-funded initiatives with Jovon Perry, director of Economic Assistance and Employment Supports at Minnesota’s Children and Family Services, and Cindi Yang, director of the Child Care Services Division of Children and Family Services.
Blog December 21, 2021
Home-based education leaders Ruth Kimble, DeCarla Burton, Martina Rocha, and Erma Jackson contributed to this fourth blog in the HBCC Voices from the Field Series.
Archived Meeting Resources December 17, 2021
This is the slide deck from the November 16 webinar, Home-Based Child Care: Supporting HBCC Educators Whose Primary Language is Other than English. Home-Based Child Care is popular because many providers offer flexible schedules and are more familiar and affordable to families than child care centers. In addition, many families are able to find home-based providers with cultural and/or linguistic backgrounds similar to their own. Nearly one-fifth of the ECE workforce are immigrants, with many educators speaking languages other than English, and close to a quarter of all HBCC providers speaking Spanish. During this webinar, participants learned how states and communities can recognize and support this critical population of educators.