Health Equity Key to Ensuring Kids Ready for Class

Gerry Cobb, Director of State Services, BUILD Initiative

This post originally appeared on the BUILD Initiative's website. BUILD works to encourage public investments in early learning and services that support children both in and outside the classroom. 

The BUILD Initiative recently invited four state teams (Colo., Minn., Mich., Ohio) as well as representatives from four other states (Ariz., Ga., Ill., N.Y.) to participate in a two-day “mock grant opportunity.”

The goal of the health equity meeting was to work with each state team to develop an “application” for a $20 million mock grant designed to focus on eliminating young child health disparities. The meeting, held in Denver, Colo., was designed to:

• Give states time to work together with their individual teams.

• Help teams learn from other states in the development of their plans.

• Provide state teams with expert assistance from key leaders in public health who could provide an immediate response to state planning and proposed strategies.

The Underlying Issue

While there have been major medical advances in the treatment of bio-medical health issues among both children and adults, the major determinants of child health are social and economic in origin. These social determinants include poverty and the impact of poverty upon the availability of resources. They also include social and economic disadvantage -- and the presence of discrimination, whether personal or institutional.

Speaking to this issue, meeting keynote Dr. Maxine Hayes focused on Righting the Wrong of Social Injustice in Health – Why it Matters? Why Act Now? Other sessions and presentations included Disparities in Health and Implications for Children by Dr. Bernard Guyer, with response from Dr. Steven Poole. In addition, Dr. David Willis discussed Health Equity and Young Children: Overview of Federal and State Contexts, with responses from Carrie Hanlon, Dr. Angela Sauaia and BUILD’s own Dr. Charles Bruner.

Energy and Enthusiasm for Systems Building

While a grant opportunity to eliminate young child health disparities has not yet materialized, we learned from state planning for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant that even the planning for such a grant can help move a state’s systems building efforts. From the response to this meeting and the energy and enthusiasm of the state participants, this “mock grant opportunity” will hopefully provide similar impetus to state planning efforts.

Visit the Archived Events section of the BUILD Initiative website to access some of the materials presented at the meeting.