CFA completes first phase of Connecticut Network of Care Transformation CLAS Project
In late 2015, Child and Family Agency was invited to participate in a project to address the negative impact of health disparities on the families we serve. The CONNECT (Connecticut Network of Care Transformation) with CLAS project provided support and consultation funded by the System of Care Expansion Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate disparities in children’s behavior health.
For the past nine months, employees and board members have worked together to understand the issue of health disparity and how it impacts the families of New London and Middlesex counties. The team analyzed agency data, reviewed research, held a focus group and conducted community surveys. Through our work, we learned that families feel respected and satisfied with the services they receive at CFA but that our staff does not match the diversity of our communities. While our early childhood and school based programs serve the entire community, our clinical programs may not be engaging the full range of families in need.
Health disparities are those avoidable differences in health that result from cumulative social disadvantages (The Connecticut Health Disparities Project 2009). Some of the social determinants of health include
- Access to Care (transportation and adequate insurance to pay for care)
- Availability of services in clients’ primary language
- Area of Residence (a family living next to the highway or power plant, or in housing with lead paint is more likely to have health problems)
- Cultural Differences (providers from differing cultures may not understand a family’s concerns, may make negative biased assumptions or may not take concerns seriously)
Health disparities may explain why the United States has the highest Gross National Product in the world and yet ranks 30th in life expectancy and we spend 2 trillion dollars a year on health care; half of all monies spent on healthcare in the world. (Unnatural Causes, is inequality making us sick? http://unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips.php). In Connecticut between 2001 – 2005, the infant mortality rate for white infants was 3.9 while for Black or African American Infants it as 13.0 and for Hispanics it was 6.5 per 1,000 live births (Connecticut Multicultural Health Alliance). In 2015, depression was the 4th most prevalent condition among hospitalizations in Connecticut and lower income residents were significantly higher to suffer from depression. According to the SE CT Health Improvement Collaborative, Hispanics in our communities are twice as likely to experience depression or hopelessness as White or Black/African American residents and 7% more likely to experience anxiety.
These statics and others shine a light on a significant problem for the families our agency serves. The agency’s Health Equity Team has created a plan for providing Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services which includes increasing bi-lingual and bi-cultural staff and board members; improving agency data systems for clearer tracking of who is served and who benefits; increasing community outreach and collaboration with natural support systems in our communities; improving the cultural awareness and cultural humility of staff and board through trainings and community immersion as well as increased involvement of consumers in advisory positions on the Health Equity Team.
Look to your newsletter or ask board and staff about the project. We are determined to bridge the gaps in care impacting the children and families of our communities and we invite you to get curious about some of the concepts introduced here. Look to your next newsletter for updates on our work!