Office of Minority Health Facilitates Panel on Equity and Health Among Young Children

Left-right: Cornell Wright, the executive director of the DHHS Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities; LT McCrimmon, DHHS deputy director of government affairs; Rebecca Planchard, DHHS senior early childhood policy advisor; Belinda Pettiford, DHHS/DPH women’s health branch head

Left-right: Cornell Wright, the executive director of the DHHS Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities; LT McCrimmon, DHHS deputy director of government affairs; Rebecca Planchard, DHHS senior early childhood policy advisor; Belinda Pettiford, DHHS/DPH women’s health branch head.

Feb. 26, 2019 – The Office of Minority Health hosted a Child Health Equity Chat and Chew panel to discuss issues surrounding equity and health among young children on Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Adams Building on Raleigh’s Dix Campus. Cornell Wright, the executive director of the DHHS Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, moderated the panel, which included Rebecca Planchard, senior early childhood policy advisor, LT McCrimmon, deputy director of government affairs and Belinda Pettiford, women’s health branch head.

 The event was planned as part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ initiative to improve the outcomes related to young children’s health, safety and well-being, and academic readiness for children ages 0-8. DHHS is leading work on a statewide Early Childhood Action Plan that would address these issues.

“We want to set the stage for us to talk about issues in equity,” Wright said.  “We think about health equity and the opportunities for everyone to have good health.” He goes on to finish the quote by leading into the question “Those things that prevent those opportunities that are unfair, we call those the inequities in health and in the unmeasurable distance that we see when we’re measuring those things we call those the experiments.”

 For Planchard, child health intersects with wellness and education.

“If we have a base of healthy kids in our communities, then I think our schools are going to be more equitable,” she said. “I think education outcomes are going to be more equitable. I immediately think about the interplay between the health of children coming into our classrooms and what they are able to achieve.”

 “It’s children thriving,” said Pettiford. “Kids are happy. I think that’s the fundamental basis around what healthy children look like.”

The panelists stressed the importance of engaging other stakeholders in the plan.  

“It’s not our job to speak on behalf of those not here,” said Planchard. “It’s our job to pass the mic to them.” “We have to constantly be asking ourselves, ‘Who’s not here and how do we bring them into the fold’.”

 “You can’t plan for a community without community,” said Wright.

The Early Childhood Action Plan will go into effect Monday, Feb. 25. The Early Childhood Action Summit with take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Raleigh Convention Center. Speakers will include Gov. Roy Cooper, DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; Director of the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. The summit will be live streamed by UNC-TV.

Author: 
Gretchen Kalar