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Black Babies Awareness Month

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Campaign highlights national policy agenda and research exploring long-standing inequities and the effects of COVID-19

Black Babies Awareness Month, a campaign to promote and center the needs of Black infants and toddlers, kicks-off November 1st. The initiative coincides with the release of the first-ever National Black Child Agenda.

Led by the Equity Research Action Coalition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the new campaign calls for protecting, promoting and preserving the wellbeing of Black families and babies. There are 11.5 million Black babies in the U.S. Over 60 percent of Black babies live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is more than double the rate for White babies (29 percent).

The Equity Research Action Coalition unveiled the National Black Child Agenda, an ambitious plan that calls for actions to dismantle structural racism and systemic inequities that have negative effects on Black children’s school and life success. The agenda was co-developed with research and child development experts from the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and POINTS of ACCESS, LLC.

The agenda asserts that Black families are better supported when there is a strategic focus on designing systems, and implementing programs and interventions that build upon the cultural assets and strengths of Black families. It calls for promoting Black children and their families’ economic security, health and access to quality early learning opportunities, while also preserving their cultural identity and heritage. Black families and babies experience multiple adversities prior to and after birth, but the cultural wealth of Black families has proven to be transformative in navigating against structural racism and other negative experiences.

The Black Babies Awareness Month campaign will include an open virtual roundtable with key experts to share recent research, the national policy agenda for Black children, a social media toolkit and calls-to-action for the public to get involved.

“For every parent, our precious Black babies are our pride and joy and they are more than deserving of the warm, safe and nurturing caregiving that will contribute to their health and long-term brain development,” states Equity Research Action Coalition Founder Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka. “We hope that Black Babies Awareness Month and the National Black Child Agenda together will build national public awareness around the issues that impact them the most, and lead to a concerted push for inclusive policies that will improve their life outcomes.”

“When you think about it, our children exist in a duality of ‘the land of opportunity,’ and ‘the home of racism and debilitating inequities,'” said NBCDI CEO and President Dr. Leah Austin. “This ground-breaking agenda reflects a post-2020 America, and serves as a launchpad for empowering advocates and communities everywhere to better serve the needs of the 21st century Black child,” she continued.

The resource identifies ten pressing policies of focus such as child tax credits, universal access to early childhood education and culturally-responsive training.

Ten Policies of the National Black Child Agenda:

  1. Maintain child tax credits and income supports
  2. Address racial disparities in wages and career advancement opportunities
  3. Invest in Black-owned and Black-led businesses, organizations and institutions
  4. Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act
  5. Expand health insurance
  6. Expand universal access to early care and education
  7. Address harsh discipline practices
  8. Ensure equity in early intervention and special education
  9. Ensure culturally responsive curriculum and practices through workforce development and training
  10. Pass reparations

Research on Black Babies and Families:

The Equity Research Action Coalition also recently released the report “Black Parents and Their Babies: Attending to the First 1,000 Days.” The research explores quality of life, racial trauma and socio-economic issues in greater detail. It includes first-hand accounts and action items from Black families. The report surveyed Black parents on a weekly basis from May through December of 2020, and incorporates data from the RAPID-EC project at the University of Oregon. The report provides three essential recommendations:

  • Protecting Black babies and their families from racism, discrimination and material hardship is necessary to ensure babies thrive throughout their life course
  • Promoting economic security, health and access to early learning opportunities is essential to mitigate against the biological and social vulnerability Black babies and their families face due to racism, discrimination and bias
  • Preserving Black babies’ cultural identities in the early years is as essential as the “three Rs” of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

To read the full report and learn more about Black Babies Awareness Month, visit the Equity Research Action Coalition’s website.

About the Equity Research Action Coalition

The Equity Research Action Coalition co-constructs with practitioners and policymakers actionable research to support the optimal development of Black children prenatally through childhood across the African diaspora using a cultural wealth framework. The Coalition will focus on developing a science-based action framework to eradicate the impact of racism and poverty, and all its consequences on the lives of Black children, families, and communities, and to ensure optimal health, well-being, school readiness and success, and overall excellence.

For more information about the Equity Research Action Coalition, please visit the group’s website and follow them on Twitter at @FPGInstitute.

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The Importance of CPR in Saving Lives

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Monday night football on Jan. 2 came to a halt when Buffalo Bill player Damar Hamlin fell to the field, suffering cardiac arrest. A quick-thinking athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, jumped into action and immediately started doing chest compressions to save the 24-year-old’s life. 

In an unprecedented NFL move, the game was postponed and later canceled altogether, and Hamlin was transported to an intensive care unit. Now with the news of him heading home soon to recover, the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) would like to remind people of the importance of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR to save a person’s life. ABC added Hamlin is unusually fortunate to have benefited from prompt and appropriate action from highly skilled medical personnel, which is not typically the case when a similar incident occurs in a lower-profile setting. 

With a half-million cardiac arrests each year, CPR can help save a life if a person’s breathing or heart stops. This training is not just for healthcare workers and emergency responders. In fact, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival when bystanders take action. CPR combines chest compressions with rescue breathing, restoring regular breathing and a heartbeat to an individual suffering from cardiac arrest. It keeps blood pumping through the body to vital organs until medical help arrives on the scene. 

The Association of Black Cardiologists strongly endorses exercise as a key pillar to living long and healthy lives; however, there are dangers, particularly in competitive contact sports. Fortunately, such events are rare and range in incidents from 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 80,000, depending on factors such as the type of sport and the athlete’s age.

While not official yet, it’s reported that Hamlin most likely suffered from a special cardiac arrest brought upon by blunt trauma to the chest, known medically as commotio cordis. The energy transferred from a focal, high-velocity impact to the chest wall by an object such as a baseball, hockey puck, football helmet, or even a fist or foot can, when occurring at a precise moment during the heartbeat [called the vulnerable period], lead to ventricular fibrillation – a chaotic, disorganized cardiac rhythm that results in cessation of effective pump function and loss of pulse. This rhythm leads to sudden cardiac death unless immediately reversed, typically as in this case, by application of an electric shock from a defibrillator.  

The Association of Black Cardiologists said while commotio cordis is a strong consideration for the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, many other underlying conditions must be assessed in sports-related cardiac arrest, including heart diseases.

Locally, AugustHeart provides free Heart Screening for teens ages 13 to 18 on Jan. 21 from 7 am to 9 am at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital – Alamo Heights. AugustHeart’s mission is to provide free heart screening for teenagers to identify selected heart abnormalities to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. For more information, email info@augustheart.org or call 210-267-2771. Additionally, the American Red Cross provides a variety of local online and hybrid CPR training for a cost. New parents can often get free CPR training in the community as part of childbirth classes. 

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Black Life Texas

Financial Support for Family Caregivers

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Being a caregiver for a loved one is a selfless act. This is the reality for millions of Americans who are now faced with an aging Baby Boomer population who will be faced with more chronic health issues.
In San Antonio with a population of 1.5 million, 17% are aged 60 and over and is expected to grow by about 20% by 2040.

San Antonio resident Cara Pitts has a similar caregiving story of sacrifices. She had a successful career in the healthcare industry when she made the difficult decision to leave her career to take care of her grandmother, Mary Lee, who needed a helping hand after recovering from a stroke. Cara, her husband, and her stepson went from living on two incomes to just one. But Cara soon learned how to navigate her grandmother’s Medicare and Medicaid insurance benefits, which paid for caregiving.

Lost income due to family caregiving is estimated at $522 billion each year. Around 53 million people annually provide a broad range of assistance to support the health, quality of life, and independence of an aging family member, or a loved one who has a disability or chronic health condition. Another 2.7 million grandparent caregivers – and an unknown number of other relative caregivers – open their homes each year to millions of children who cannot remain with their parents. In recent years, additional attention has been given to measuring the financial impact of family caregiving, such as lost wages, reduction in workforce, and the out-of-pocket costs caregivers often incur for meals, transportation, medical supplies, toys, educational tools, home modifications, and more.

When the challenges become overwhelming and family caregivers can’t provide support, the people they care for often are left with no choices except moving to nursing homes and other institutions or to foster care – the cost of which is typically borne by taxpayers. Many caregivers are unaware they can get funded by programs like Medicaid, Veteran Affairs, and Medicare to ease the financial burden.

. . . start seeing income come in about six months after getting the process started (through Medicaid).

“Many families are stressed because they don’t want to put their loved ones in nursing homes or other places and don’t want to leave their careers,” Cara Pitts said. “My grandmother did really well at the nursing home for a few years and became a star resident. The staff even gave her an employee name tag and made her the head of the welcome committee and VIP perks for happy hour. After a few years, the unfortunate reality of nursing home living set in when she saw friend after friend pass away, and Mary Lee became depressed. We knew something needed to change.”

Pitts has since taught other family and friends how to become paid family caregivers and recently started a website and online course (CaregivingFromHome.com) to teach others how to navigate the system. She also co-founded a gourmet plant-based brand Southern Roots Vegan Bakery with her husband Marcus Pitts and even named their best-selling cakes after Mary Lee.

On average, the family and friends that Cara Pitts has helped can start seeing income come in about six months after getting the process started (through Medicaid). She offers a free six-step guide on her website that includes learning about a Home and Community-Based Services Program and checking if some private insurance companies have caregiving benefits for long-term care.

Just recently in September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Administration for Community Living, released the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. It highlights nearly 350 actions the federal government will take to support family caregivers in the coming year. Some of the recommendations highlighted include incentives for healthcare systems to incorporate caregivers into decision-making for the person receiving care; redesign the Medicaid eligibility process so that the care recipient does not have to deplete most of their assets to qualify for support; allow kin and grandparent caregivers who have primary responsibility for a child to claim the federal Child Tax Credit; and introduce a range of incentives to encourage employers to adopt caregiver-friendly practices, including tax incentives.

This new strategy and report is expected to be a living document and updated every two years, as required by the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act of 2017.
To learn how to get paid as a family caregiver or to ensure you are getting the support you need, sign up and get the free six-step guide.

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Community

Metro Health Pushes Community to Receive Flu Shot

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As cases increase and festivities are nearby, the community is encouraged to follow safety measures to prevent illnesses

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) is encouraging the community to take safety measures to prevent any illness, especially during the fall and winter seasons as temperatures continue to drop and holiday festivities begin. 

The flu vaccine is the first step toward protection. Anyone six months and older is eligible to receive their vaccine yearly. Pregnant women and individuals with underlying health conditions are encouraged to seek protection as soon as possible. 

“The Metro Health Department continues its outreach efforts to educate the public on the importance of getting the flu shot,” says Claude A. Jacob, Metro Health Director. “During the upcoming holiday festivities, it is very important to take extra care of yourself by making sure that you are protected this season and to stay at home/away from loved ones if you are sick. Remember, flu vaccinations prevent illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.” 

As festivities such as Halloween and Día de los Muertos are approaching, the Metro Health Department encourages the community to take the following into consideration:

  • If you feel sick, stay home to avoid spreading viruses to others 
  • Monitor your symptoms including fever, cough, chills, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, muscle or body aches, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea 
  • If you are sick, do not hand out candy to trick-or-treaters during Halloween
  • Get tested for the flu before attending any festivity (trick-or-treating or attending a Día de los Muertos celebration)
  • Stay up to date on the latest news regarding the flu, COVID-19, and vaccines 
  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds when you return home

Metro Health Immunization clinics currently offer flu and COVID-19 vaccines. For more information, the community can call 210-207-8894 or visit https://www.sanantonio.gov/Health/HealthServices/Immunizations.

For any questions regarding vaccines, the community is also encouraged to consult with their medical provider.

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