Health and Learning Alameda County


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This PowerPoint provides a framework for understanding the nexus between health and learning as well as underlying equity issues.

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  • Overview of presentation/desired outcomes: Share info on health and learning Hear what health issues you notice among the students and families you work with Begin to think about identifying a health priority for the Oakland Reads 2020 campaignPresentationDiscussionSmall groups re: local issues
  • Who we are:a social impact organization using the tools of research, policy, collaboration, innovation, and advocacy to achieve equity and social justice.Our mission: to eliminate persistent poverty by working with partners to transform low-income neighborhoods into vibrant, healthy communities.Alison:Our relationship to OUSD, FSCS, AAMAI, Oakland Reads 2020, the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and this work.
  • Why health matters for learning, particularly for reading by third gradeA health problem affects the achievement gap if it: affects many children is linked to development and/or learning disproportionately affects children of color or children in low-income families or communities
  • Often think of physical health, or even more narrowly, of medical care. Our work uses the WHO definition.
  • This broad definition of health allows us to see health issues that aren’t visible if we think of health just as the absence of disease. This is particularly important when we’re thinking about children’s health because some of the issues that have the most profound impact on children’s well being and health over the life course don’t show up as physical ailments.
  • Cyclical relationship between health and education.Children’s health happens where they live, learn, and play.Higher levels of educational attainment are correlated with better health, longer life expectancy, and better health of the next generation.Low-income children of color face substantial barriers to healthy places to live, play, and learn – this produces health inequities, which in turn contribute to achievement and attainment gaps.Improving the health of children is a key step on the path to increasing educational attainment, including literacy.We made a decision in our analysis to look at health issues related to children’s development, learning, and academic achievement rather than narrowly on literacy because there’s little reason to believe that something that impairs a child’s cognitive development, for example, would not affect her learning to read. Filtering for only those issues with a documented link to reading per se seemed unnecessarily narrow.Brief look at demographics of OUSD: why looking at economic and racial barriers to the conditions that make healthy childhood possible is so key in Oakland.
  • Definition: Percent of public school students eligible to receive free or reduced price meals, by eligibility status. A child's family income must fall below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines ($29,055 for a family of four in 2011) to qualify for free meals, or between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty guidelines ($41,348 for a family of four in 2011)to qualify for reduced-cost meals.The vast majority of OUSD students identified as low-income are very low income.Data Source: As cited on, California Department of Education, Free/Reduced Price Meals Program & CalWORKS Data Files, (Feb. 2012); U.S. Department of Education, NCES Common Core of Data, (Feb. 2012).
  • For context: the well-documented racial inequities in health across a range of issues place a majority of OUSD students at risk of health barriers to learning and thriving.These enrollment figures reflect active students at the end of the school year, and will not match enrollment figures drawn from the beginning of the school year.
  • Issues at specific developmental stages (e.g. low birth weight)Issues spanning development (e.g. trauma and exposure to violence)Mechanisms by which health problems affect learning: Interfering with development in any domain: physical, social, emotional, or cognitive (e.g. exposure to lead) Restricting opportunities to learn (e.g. through school absences due to asthma or lack of safety in neighborhood)Rebecca is going to give a sample of some local data on learning-related health issues.
  • Examples to spur thinking and discussion; more are in the profile.We’re always limited by the availability of data on the issues we care about: often we have to make do with less than we want in terms of geographic or demographic specificity, as well as the timeliness of data.Always want to supplement data with community insights.
  • Poverty probably is the biggest barrier to health for children and operates along both pathways (development and opportunities to learn). Life-long health effects as well as profound impact on access to educational resources, and exposure to chronic stress which affects cognitive development.Note difference between poverty def. and free/reduced-price school meal criteria.
  • Example of very local data from CHIS over-sample in East Oakland. Gives a picture of broad health status of kids.The most comparable national figure is from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, which found that children in the U.S. had fair or poor health 3.5% (half the California figure) -- a good reminder that statewide comparisons aren’t very useful if California has poor outcomes.
  • Connection to learning: chronic stress from exposure to violence impairs cognitive as well as emotional development, lack of safety in neighborhood restricts opportunities to be physically active (overweight, link to achievement)
  • Link to learning: attendance and school absences. (opportunities to learn)Example of local data disaggregated by race/ethnicity and gender – reveals information useful for understanding who is most affected and planning interventions. Note the large racial disparities and that boys are more likely than girls in every racial/ethnic group to have asthma.Younger children are most affected.
  • Maternal depression hinders cognitive and emotional development in children, and women of color and women in poverty are bear a much heavier burden of depression than their white and non-poor peers. Example of less-than-truly-local data, but a useful proxy measure of a key issue that’s hard to measure. Both in the Bay Area and in the state, single mothers are at much greater risk than married mothers.See p. X in your handout for more learning-related health issues – limited by data availability.
  • Again, not comprehensive but a spur for thinking and discussion about the connections between health and learning.
  • Mitigating asthma triggers on school grounds; educating school staff so that parents can trust them with their kids when the kids are symptomatic and don’t feel they need to keep their children home; referring families of chronically absent or truant students with asthma to appropriate services.See Increasing Attendance through Asthma Prevention, District Administration, May 2010. Attendance Works:
  • Trauma and chronic stress: complex versus simple trauma; chronic stress due to high levels of adversity interferes with brain development; evidence that poverty itself is a form of chronic stressReducing kids’ and families’ exposure to chronically stressful situations – increasing safety, support to parents, policies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity.Teacher and school staff and volunteer training around complex trauma, how it manifests in children, and strategies for supporting trauma-exposed children in ECE and school settingsCognitive-Behavioral Intervention: Implemented in LAUSD and elsewhere, this evidence-based program targets students with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and consists of group and individual psychoeducational sessions along with parent and teacher education components.See Turnaround for Children (NY)
  • Two-generation approaches attempt to break the artificial distinction between the well being of children and the well being of their parents. Examples include:Addressing the impact of maternal depression on children’s development: Linking mental health screening and treatment for mothers to home visiting programs, early childhood care and education settings, and pediatric care. (Can include strategies like boosting Medicaid enrollment among eligible parents, making parental mental health care available as part of a full-service community school, etc.)See Urban Institute’s brief: Improving the Lives of Young Children Meeting Parents’ Health and Mental Health Needs through Medicaid and CHIP So Children Can ThriveOlivia Golden and Karina Fortuny, March 2011 Increasing family income and wealth-building opportunities (to reduce the effects of poverty on children) alongside education: Building workforce development and post-secondary educational opportunities into high-quality early care and education settings – linked with family support services to lower barriers to participation. When mothers increase their education, children’s reading levels grow (ages 6-12). See Aspen Institute, Two Generations, One Future. 2012.
  • Throw out ideas in large group.
  • Health and Learning Alameda County

    1. 1. Exploring the Health-Learning Nexus Alameda County Urban Strategies Council
    2. 2. Urban Strategies CouncilA social impact organization working to eliminate persistent poverty
    3. 3. The Health and Learning Nexus
    4. 4. How are we defining health?
    5. 5. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
    6. 6. Healthier Healthier Places to Child andLive, Play, and Youth Learn Development Higher Educational Achievement and Attainment
    7. 7. OUSD Student Eligibility to Receive Free or Reduced-Price School Meals, by Eligibility Status: 2011
    8. 8. OUSD Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity:2010-11 Multiracial White 2% 12% African American 33% Latino/Hispanic 36% Asian/Pacific Islander 17%
    9. 9. How do health issues affect learning? Hinder development Social Emotional Physical Cognitive Restrict opportunities to learn
    10. 10. Sample Learning-Related Health Issues
    11. 11. Children below Poverty Level (2005-2009)30%25% Oakland20%15% Alameda County10% California5%0% 2005-2007 2006-2008 2007-2009 U.S. Census
    12. 12. Children in Fair/Poor Health (2009) 20% 18% 16% 14% 13% 12% 10% 8% 7% 6% 5% 4% 2% 0% East Oakland Alameda County California California Health Interview Survey
    13. 13. Children Feeling Safe in Neighborhood (2009) 100% 90% 86% 87% 80% 70% 60% 53% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% East Oakland Alameda County California California Health Interview Survey
    14. 14. OUSD Students Diagnosed With Asthma, by Race/Ethnicity and Gender (2010-11)25%20% 19% 18% 17% 16%15% 13% 13% 12% Female 10% 10% 10% 10% 9% Male10% 9% 8% 8% 7% 6% 5%5%0% OUSD African Asian Filipino Latino Multiple Native Pacific White Overall American Ethnicity American Islander Oakland Unified School District 2010-11
    15. 15. Mothers with Psychological Distress inPast Year (2009) 16% 14% 14% 12% 10% 8% 8% Single with kids 6% 6% Married with kids 4% 3% 2% 0% Bay Area California California Health Interview Survey
    16. 16. Sample Learning-Related Health Interventions February 11, 2011
    17. 17. Breaking the Link between Asthma andAbsences Mitigating triggers in school environment Equipping school staff to handle asthma Linking to asthma services
    18. 18. Addressing Widespread Trauma Reducing exposure to trauma Educating community/school about trauma Intervening with affected children and families
    19. 19. Applying Two-GenerationApproaches Maternal mental health and young children Early childhood education and post- secondary education & training
    20. 20. What health issues and interventions do you see affecting children’s literacy? February 11, 2011
    21. 21. Thinking about a health priority: Small groups February 11, 2011
    22. 22. Questions to Discuss: Which health issues would we like to learn more about? Which health issues do we see having the biggest impact on children’s literacy development? Are we already addressing any? How? Which of the health issues we are considering as priorities lend themselves to low-cost or no-cost strategies, or to efforts already underway? Which issues are most ripe for action?