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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children’s Health in Rhode Island
Currently, there is a maternal health crisis both nationally and in Rhode Island. Beyond that, there are unacceptable and persistent disparities in maternal, infant, and child health outcomes by race and ethnicity.
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT will release its newest publication, Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children’s Health in Rhode Island, TODAY, Monday, January 30th at 3p.m. via ZOOM. Register to attend the ZOOM event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eIk2B_boQtKzN3bLopKHqA
Speakers will be Paige Clausius-Parks, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT; Michele Lederberg, Executive Vice President of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island; and Ana Novais, Acting Secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Kaitlyn Rabb, MPH will share findings from the Issue Brief.
Reflections will be shared from the following panel: Ditra Edwards, Director of SISTA Fire; Susie Finnerty, Co-Founder of the Rhode Island Birth Worker Cooperative and Co-President of Doulas of Rhode Island; Dr. Beata Nelken, pediatrician; Quatia Osorio, Founder of Our Journ3i, Agency Director of RI Perinatal Doula Agency, & Executive Director of the Urban Perinatal Education Center; Founding Director of RI Birth Worker Cooperative; and Urban Farmer at Quaintly and Journey Farm; and a parent and SISTA Fire member.
Increased Diversity Among Rhode Island Children and Births
· In Rhode Island between 2010 and 2020, the Hispanic child population grew by 22% while the non-Hispanic white child population declined by 22%. In 2020, 47% of children in Rhode Island were Children of Color, up from 36% in 2010.
· Nationally, fertility rates have declined across all racial and ethnic groups; however, Black and Hispanic women have higher fertility rates than Asian and white women.
· In 2020 in Rhode Island, 46% of babies born were Babies of Color.
(Disparities in) Social Determinants of Health
· Health care only accounts for 10-20% of an individual’s overall health outcomes and is just one of the social determinants of health, which is defined as the conditions and environments where people are born, live, learn, work, and play and that greatly impact health outcomes.
· These social determinants of health, including economic stability, education access, neighborhood and the built environment, and social context account for over 80% of health outcomes.
· Disparities in social determinants of health can be traced back to the founding of the United States — the wealth-building policies that overwhelmingly benefited white citizens — and continue to impact the longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in health, including maternal and infant health.
· Racism became an economic tool infused into laws, policies, and practices that have harmed Asian, Black, Latinx, Native American and low-income white people for centuries. The effects are felt and reflected in the data to this day.
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children’s Health: Indicators and Outcomes
· Snapshots of several indicators that demonstrate the persistent racial and ethnic disparities in maternal, infant, and young children’s health. Please see the publication for a full explanation of the data
The Need for a Diverse and Culturally Competent Workforce
While local, state, and national infrastructure and policies can help support maternal health, a racially and ethnically inclusive workforce is needed to provide compassionate, respectful care to women and birthing people throughout their pregnancy. This workforce should include a diverse array of providers including primary care physicians, nurses, midwives, doulas and support personnel in and out of the hospital setting. It is important to focus on workforce development, recruitment, and retention to address racially diverse representation the workforce to improve disparities in maternal and infant health care.
Legislative Efforts to Expand Health Coverage to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Rhode Island
· Cover All Kids: The Cover All Kids Act, which passed which passed as part of the FY 2023 budget, has restored Rhode Island’s policy of allowing all eligible low-income children, regardless of immigration status, to enroll in RIte Care and will help insure more kids.
“The health of Black and Brown mothers and babies are at risk in Rhode Island,” said Paige Clausius-Parks, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “The story that this data tells is heavy and painful and should mobilize each and every person to call on our policymakers to act now.”
Kaitlyn Rabb, Policy Analyst at Rhode Island KIDS COUNT said, “The voices of those with lived experiences tells more than numbers and data can show — that this crisis is directly impacting many women and families of color in Rhode Island.”
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is a statewide children’s policy organization that works to improve the health, economic well-being, safety, education, and development of Rhode Island children with a core focus on equity.