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In just a matter of weeks, proud parents, family, and friends in every corner of the nation will gather to watch their high school seniors graduate. Predictable warm weather and speeches that may run a bit too long will be of little note as an estimated3.3 million young women and men earn their diplomas and embark upon their future pursuits.
For most, it is a new beginning, full of opportunity and hope. For far too many others, including youth who don’t graduate from high school, it’s a path that is lined with barriers to opportunity which limit their educational attainment, economic opportunity, and future success.
And for children from minority and disadvantaged communities who do not graduate high school, the challenges of reaching their full potential are even steeper. They are less likely to be employed, less likely to rise above the bottom fifth in income distribution, and more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system.
These factors also influence their overall health. As Broderick Johnson, Cabinet Secretary at the White House and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, said during the National Minority Health Month 2016 HHS Health Equity Forum on April 7: “You can’t just talk about filling opportunity gaps, whether it is in education or in jobs, without also talking about the importance of the health and well-being, especially for our most vulnerable young people. Opportunities impact health. Health impacts opportunity.”
Improving the well-being and expected life outcomes for all young people, including boys and young men of color, is the goal of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force recently issued its two year progress report: Two Years of Expanding Opportunity and Creating Pathways to Success. And at HHS, we understand if we are going to meet this challenge, our work must begin early in the lives of youth.
By age three, children from low-income households have heard about 30 million fewer words than their peers from higher income households. Long before kindergarten starts, a disparity in language skills exists that can affect performance at school and other outcomes later in life. In 2015, HHS and the U.S. Department of Education invited government officials, researchers, advocates and community leaders for a convening at the White House on Bridging the Word Gap. Announcements at the meeting included a $2 million investment for a National Academies of Science study on supporting young dual and English language learners and the Bridging the Word Gap Challenge, an initiative of the Health Resources and Services Administration. The challenge will lead to the creation of tools to help parents and caregivers talk and engage more with young children. . HHS also funded the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network at the University of Kansas to develop and test interventions to improve early language exposure, vocabulary acquisition and language development for children from disadvantaged communities.
Promoting the social-emotional and behavioral development of children is essential to their future health and well-being. The National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation was launched in October 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Administration for Children and Families. The Center of Excellence will develop tools, training, and technical assistance to help states and Tribal nations build strong behavioral health system systems for children. It will also ensure that more child care centers, preschools, and home visiting programs have access to consultants who can help them meet the needs of young children, especially those who struggle with developmental and behavioral challenges. The Center of Excellence, managed by the Education Development Center, Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts and awarded $6 million over four years, is also designed to advance research, training, and policies to improve outcomes for young children.
Even in preschool, expulsion and suspension of students occur at high rates. And young students are who are expelled or suspended are as much as 10 times more likely to drop out of school and experience academic failure and grade retention. These students are also more likely to be young boys of color. To curb and severely limit expulsion and suspension in early learning settings, in December 2014, HHS and the U.S. Department of Education issued the first federal policy statement on the matter. And today, the Administration for Children and Families has released a resource guide on State and Local Action to Prevent Expulsion and Suspension in Early Learning Settings, to provide states and localities with innovative approaches to address expulsions and suspensions in early childhood settings.
By curbing expulsions and suspensions, working to erase the word gap and providing more support for America’s children, we are ensuring that more youth are able to achieve their full potential, which is something of which we all can be proud.
Through these efforts and many others that are advancing the goals of My Brother’s Keeper, new collaborations are underway across sectors, such as health and human services, education, justice, labor, and housing, and they are that are forging new pathways to accelerate health equity for all young people, including boys and young men of color. Find out more about what My Brother’s Keeper is doing to expand opportunity for young people here.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Gracia serves as the HHS designee on the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.
Ed. note: This originally published on the Centers for Medicare & Medical Services (CMS) website.
Millions of Americans are gaining health coverage every year. Between 2013 and 2014, African Americans and Latinos saw the largest declines in uninsured rates. During the 2016 open enrollment period, over 2.2 million individuals of color selected plans through the Marketplace. Getting coverage is a big accomplishment, but it is just the first step. Regardless of your race or ethnicity, taking advantage of your coverage so you and your family stay healthy is an equally important step.
Read more on the CMS site.
Cara James is the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Ed. note: This was originally published on the acf.hhs.gov blog.
Today, in conjunction with the release of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Second Year Report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report that highlights states and local communities that are taking important steps to address expulsion and suspension in early learning settings. The actions profiled in the report, range from passing new legislation to restrict expulsions and suspensions in preschool programs and revising regulations to improve the social-emotional supports children in child care programs receive, to expanding coaching programs - such as early childhood mental health consultation- that prevent expulsion and build teacher capacity in supporting children's development.
This resource follows the recommendation to eliminate expulsion and suspension in early learning settings, initially outlined in the MBK Task Force Report to the President; and the subsequent release of the first joint policy statement on expulsion and suspension from HHS and the Department of Education (ED), which issued recommendations to ultimately eliminate expulsion and suspension from early learning settings.
To continue the forward progress to eliminate expulsions and suspensions in early learning settings, a group of more than 30 national organizations, led by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, published a joint statement in support of those recommendations today.
When people think of expulsions and suspensions, they tend to think of older children- teenagers maybe. They don’t usually think of our youngest learners- toddlers and preschoolers in early learning settings. However, some estimates indicate that young children in early childhood programs are expelled at rates much higher than older children. Expulsion and suspension data also consistently indicate racial and gender disparities in these detrimental practices, with boys and boys of color, in particular, being expelled and suspended at higher rates than their peers.
We all lose when young children are expelled. In the early years of life, children’s brains are developing rapidly and are influenced by both positive and negative experiences. Besides experiencing the stress and interruption of being removed from their early learning setting, research indicates that children who are expelled or suspended are more likely to drop out of high school, experience academic failure, hold negative attitudes about school, and face incarceration than those who do not. Early expulsion and suspension predict later expulsions and suspensions, so when we set our children’s trajectories in a negative direction from the beginning, consequences later in life follow.
Parents are negatively impacted too. With their work schedules being interrupted, parents are left stressed out scrambling to find alternative care when their child has been asked to leave. The result is often children bouncing from one program to another, and working families struggling to find and keep care.
And let’s not forget teachers and caregivers. Trying to support the learning and social-emotional development of all young children, including those who may demonstrate challenging behaviors, without access to classroom supports like early childhood mental health consultation, is frustrating. The lack of support to manage challenging behaviors, many of which are developmentally appropriate, can cause disruption and get in the way of learning. Caregivers in these situations are often left feeling like removing children is the only way forward.
A key recommendation from the HHS and ED joint policy statement on expulsion and suspension called for investing in a skilled workforce and making specialized supports available to all caregivers so that teachers have hands-on assistance in supporting all children and engage in self-reflective practice to prevent potential biases in practice.
The report being released today features great progress in communities across the country. States like Arkansas, Colorado and Ohio have invested in expanding early childhood mental health consultation to support teachers and providers. Connecticut, the only state to have a universal early childhood mental health consultation system, passed a state law that prohibits most out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of young children.
Our goal is to share these and other examples to encourage more states and communities to take action to correct this troublesome issue. We hope this report sparks innovative ideas and shared learning for addressing and ultimately eliminating suspensions and expulsions of our youngest learners, in your state and community.
For Immediate Release: See the White House Fact Sheet here.
Two years have passed since the President signed a Presidential Memorandum in 2014 establishing the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force (the Task Force), a coordinated Federal effort to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. See the report My Brother’s Keeper – Two Years of Expanding Opportunity & Creating Pathways for Success.
Linda K. Smith is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development
Yesterday the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released Eliminating the Public Health Problem of Hepatitis B and C in the United States: Phase One Report, which affirms that it would be possible to eliminate hepatitis in the U.S. with the right resources, commitment, and strategy. Importantly, the report also concluded that in the short term, disease control — a reduction in the incidence and prevalence of hepatitis B and C and their consequences — is feasible.
Commissioned by the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis and the HHS Office of Minority Health, the report examines scientific and policy issues related to the prevention, detection, control, and management of HBV and HCV and also discusses the barriers that must be overcome to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C in the United States.
This report will inform and galvanize work currently underway across the federal government to both implement the national Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and develop an update to it that will guide our nation’s response to viral hepatitis through 2020. (See the related blog post: Federal Workgroup Looks to Future of Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.)
The Academies will now continue their work, developing a phase two report that will outline a strategy and propose targets for eliminating hepatitis B and C in the United States. This report is expected early next year.
Corinna Dan, R.N., M.P.H. is the Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor at the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Ed. note: This was originally published on the HHS.gov blog.
Summary: We invite all communities to learn more about National Minority Health Month, and resources to help promote this observance and events in your community.
Earlier this month, the HHS Office of Minority Health kicked off the nation’s observance of National Minority Health Month and the 30th anniversary of the HHS Office of Minority Health with a historic Health Equity Forum at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services headquarters in Washington, DC. The Forum highlighted initiatives underway by the Obama Administration and HHS to reduce disparities and further efforts to accelerate health equity and expand opportunity for all. We had a great turnout, with nearly 200 people attending the Forum and more than a thousand individuals watching online.
As an issue of national importance, attendees heard critical messages about the path forward to accelerate health equity from White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, Health and Human Services Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Karen B. DeSalvo, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and myself. They also heard an important message from President Barack Obama about working to close “health care gaps that leave communities behind.” Read the full message here.
Observance of National Minority Health Month 2016, themed Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation, will continue throughout this month. We invite all communities to learn more about National Minority Health Month, and resources to help promote this observance and events in your community. Visit http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/nmhm16/.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health; Director, HHS Office of Minority Health