Easterseals announced it has received a $750,000 grant from the Abbott Foundation for the Public Health Education and Equity pilot project.
The grant will fund the project from now until 2025, with the three-year initiative aiming to remove systemic barriers to high-quality education and healthcare faced by children and families in low-income communities.
According to the press release, research shows that young children, especially children with disabilities and children of color, face significant gaps in access to critical health and social services that can provide the targeted support they need to prepare for success in school.
The company cites an American Academy of Pediatrics study showing that black children with autism and other disabilities are diagnosed, on average, more than three years after their parents raised concerns about their development. Such delays in diagnosis can mean children are missing out on age-appropriate care and chances for improved health and cognitive skills.
Easterseals is committed to creating an integrated system to meet the education and health needs of children to help them reach their full potential. The project includes expanding access to basic physical and mental health screenings and care for children, providing targeted social services to help families overcome gaps in basic needs, nutrition, transportation and other social and economic barriers, and providing administrators and preschool educators education appropriate training to identify and address health and social problems and support children in a culturally sensitive manner.
The project will be implemented at Easterseals Child Development Centers in Southern California, Atlanta, and North Georgia, as well as the Greater Washington, DC area.
“We are proud to support the important work of Easterseals to address disparities in education and public health,” said Melissa Brotz, Abbott Vice President of Global Marketing and External Relations and President of the Abbott Fund. said in release. “We are committed to advancing health equity and combating racial health disparities, and our partnership with Easterseals will help reduce barriers to care for children, their families, and their communities.”
The project builds on previous Easterseals programs, including the Black Children’s Foundation, launched in 2021 with support from the Abbott Foundation. This program promoted early identification and intervention among black children with autism and other disabilities to reduce health disparities that often occur in early childhood.
Abbott said Abbott Fund investments have launched pilot projects at Easterseals service points serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford, DuPage and the Fox Valley region (Illinois), and Kansas City and St. Louis (Missouri).
“Through the Community Health Education and Equity Project, Easterseals is committed to addressing health disparities among young children in low-investment communities and understanding the link between health equity and early childhood education,” said national director of childhood for Easterseals. Erica L. Watson said development, education and equity. “We intend to focus on the experiences of children of color and their families, for whom inequalities have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”