On August 23, 2020, Kenosha experienced a tragedy with the shooting of father of three Jacob Blake at the hands of a police officer, followed by civil unrest with racial undertones. The incident has had a major impact on the Kenosha community and has highlighted the issues of institutional racism, discrimination and health disparities. The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) remains deeply concerned along with many others at what appears to be the ongoing inhumanity against people of color across this nation.
Our hearts go out to the Blake family and our LIHF team is committed to addressing systemic racism across our priority communities: Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha. LIHF cares about African American families and their ability to thrive. Our mission is to address inequities in African American birth outcomes in Southeastern Wisconsin through capacity building with organizations serving African Americans and facilitating systems change using innovative, community-driven asset and evidence-based strategies to improve healthcare and social support. In particular, we are focusing on chronic stress due to racism and social discrimination, a key driver of poor birth outcomes among African American mothers and babies.
LIHF is here for the Kenosha community and will continue to work with our community partners throughout our priority communities to educate and bring awareness to racism. We encourage the community to join our Addressing Systemic Racism webinar series each month in an effort to work together on building a strong, anti-racist community. We addressed historical trauma during the first webinar in the series and we plan to offer the community more sessions on historical trauma to understand how it adversely impacts life today. Two years ago, the community helped LIHF develop a campaign to address the mental health of our mothers. Called “Strong Moms Covered by Strong Villages,” we plan on relaunching the campaign in the upcoming months to help reduce the stigma around mental health and offer resources to the community.
We will continue to use our voices to drive change, and we support the efforts of all those who are peacefully fighting for equity and the end of systemic racism in our communities. To learn more about LIHF, please go to our website https://lihf.wisc.edu/.
Gina Green-Harris, Director of the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) and the entire LIHF Team
The Census impacts policies that affect funding geared towards reducing infant mortality
The United States Census Bureau is the largest statistical agency of the federal government. It provides facts and figures about people living in America (citizens or non-citizens) in addition to information about places and the economy overall. Mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Census of Population and Housing counts every resident in the U.S. every 10 years. This survey asks a series of questions that impacts planning and policymaking for the next decade. Specifically, data collected from the census determines distribution of Congressional seats to states. Census responses also drive important decisions regarding community services and funding allocation to areas such as education, transportation, and public health.
One area of public health that is a key measure of the nation’s health is infant mortality. Infant mortality is the death of an infant before the age of one (1) per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality is reflective of socioeconomic conditions, maternal health, several public health practices, access to quality and affordable health care, and other factors. Some of the leading causes of infant mortality, such as premature birth (babies born before 37 weeks), are preventable and can be addressed through public policy.
The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) was established to address the disproportionately high rates of infant mortality among African Americans in Wisconsin, which has one of the worst black infant mortality rates in the nation. From 2015-2018, babies born to black mothers in Wisconsin were three times (3x) more likely to die before their first birthday than babies born to white mothers.
LIHF seeks to become the face and leading voice in infant mortality and healthy birth outcomes in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha counties. Policy and programs that LIHF is intentionally including as its strategies and focal points that have the potential to reduce infant mortality, and that are impacted by data collection methods such as the census include the following:
Everyone, especially people of color, needs to be counted in the 2020 Census! Every individual is a major piece of the puzzle needed to strengthen our communities and families. Please visit LIHF’s Facebook page: @LIHFProgramOffice and website: https://lihf.wisc.edu to stay abreast of our progress toward reducing infant mortality across Southeastern Wisconsin.
Lifecourse Initiative for HealthY Families (LIHF) Celebrates JuneteentH: Moving from Promises TO ActionRead Now
As we embark on Juneteenth Day, the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States, it is somewhat surreal to think that 157 years later Black people are still subject to the residual bondages of slavery. Slavery was abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but the news did not reach Texas until two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865. One year later, those who had been enslaved started Juneteenth/Freedom Day. This year as we commemorate Juneteenth, we find ourselves in the middle of two pandemics: a health crisis – COVID-19 - and a social justice crisis of police brutality, both exasperated by the social construct of racism.
Across the country, African Americans have died from COVID19 at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites. In addition, we are suffering from loss of jobs, access to health care, as well as educational opportunities for our children due to structural racism. We are also facing a racial pandemic before the entire world. Black men and women are unjustly being killed by law enforcement. The racial and social injustice through the blatant murder and blood shed of innocent Black lives started centuries ago by public lynching continues today. The most recent outcry started with the senseless public murder of George Floyd a few weeks ago that was captured on video for the world to experience.
While police brutality, social injustice, systemic oppression and racism are not new to our community, they do have a profound effect on our mental and physical wellbeing. Stressful life events have been shown to predict mortality in initially healthy populations (Rosengren et al., 1993). African Americans…have been impacted greatly by hypertension and diabetes due to chronic stress resulting from discrimination (Williams & Neighbors, 2001; Kaholokula et al, 2010; McClure et al, 2010). Stress due to experiences of racism can contribute to adverse birth outcomes, when combined with the effects of general and maternal stress (Nuru-Jeter et al, 2009; Dominguez et al, 2008; Canady et al, 2008).
As we are facing these critical times, it is important that LIHF publicly reinforces our commitment to the Black community to move from Promises to Action through our LIHF 2.0 model. As we promised, we are committed to addressing systemic oppression for the betterment of lives of all Black/African American people in Wisconsin. Now more than ever, it is critical that we leverage our resources to expeditiously move into action for our Black families in the state and our nation. First and foremost, I want to reaffirm our commitment to actively help and support the efforts to dismantle racism and work with our stakeholders to build safer and equitable communities for all Black families to thrive. I also want to share an excerpt of how we will move our work forward in commitment. Using an asset-based community approach,
We commit to:
Participating in social justice reform, we will work to ensure that racism is eradicated.
As the Director of the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF), I am proud to share that our team is working together with our stakeholders and partners to mobilize and come together for collective change to end this systemic torture. And despite the current climate, we remain hopeful and will continue to reflect on the commitment and sacrifices of our predecessors and civil rights leaders from the recent past. We will use the data to develop strategies to continue to build the capacity of the black community and partner with it to build on the strengths to advance change. Finally, we will focus on our future generations and in that spirt, we will do our work to ensure a better America for our next generation.
On behalf of the entire LIHF Team,
Gina Green-Harris, Director
Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF)
Dear Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) community member:
The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) is continuing our work to reduce infant mortality in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha. One of our priority areas is Chronic stress in African American women within social service and health care systems, as it is a proven driver of poor birth outcomes for African American families and should be addressed on societal, community, and individual levels.
Community input is very important to help us address the issue of chronic stress among African American families across Wisconsin. In March, LIHF conducted a community conversation in your community about chronic stress, and you provided invaluable feedback. A second conversation was scheduled for April. However, due to COVID-19, we had to cancel that in-person conversation. We would greatly appreciate additional feedback from you and welcome you to share the below survey link with others who you think would be interested.
We are still hoping to obtain your input as it is critical to our work moving forward. We are asking you to please take a few minutes to complete the online survey( see link below) to answer questions about agencies and organizations in your community that are working with African American families. We are asking you to please complete your survey by Sunday May 10th. If you have any questions or have difficulty completing this survey, please leave us a reply below or contact us in the contact session at the bottom of this website.
LIHF Community Survey
Thank you in advance for your feedback. We value your input.
The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) Team
To our LIHF families and community stakeholders:
These are interesting times in our country and around the globe. We are experiencing a global health emergency with the number of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases increasing and the methods to stem further spread impacting all our lives.
The UW is first and foremost committed to taking all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of you, our partners and staff, and the public. In that, the Chancellor has instituted a mandate - effective immediately - that all non- essential employees work remotely. Following our leadership, the LIHF office will be instituting the following:
Gina Green-Harris, Director
Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF)
Milwaukee Program Office
New Staff Hired in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha; Chronic Stress Becomes Major Focus
Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families Announces New Partnership
Posted on August 12, 2019
The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, with continued support from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), is pleased to announce that it will continue and enhance its work in Southeastern Wisconsin to improve birth outcomes for African American families.
The Lifecourse Initiative is expanding to include a new partnership with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (PHI). The Lifecourse Initiative is using a new grant totaling $970,000 from the Wisconsin Partnership Program to build the strategic initiative’s infrastructure, pilot community capacity-building strategies, and increase awareness of strategies to reduce black-white disparities in birth outcomes for African American women, with a priority area of chronic stress.
The work will take place over the next 18 months. The Initiative continues to be led by Gina Green-Harris, MBA, director of the Lifecourse Initiative, and brings the new addition of Sheri Johnson, PhD, director of the PHI at the UW SMPH, who serves as the academic partner.
Read the recent press release.