January 28, 2021

Spreading the Word: The Need for Health Equity

 Health equity is top of mind for every parent.  Melissa Rock, our Birth to Three Strategic Initiative Director, shared with Promise Heights Community Collaborative ways in which Advocates for Children and Youth is working to make healthcare equitable and accessible.  Melissa spoke about upcoming bill proposals in the 2021 Maryland's General Assembly designed to improve health outcomes. These bills include suppporting maternal health, increasing health equity, limiting access to flavored tobacco products, and expanding access to telehealth. If you would like us to do a presentation on how certain laws affect your children, families, and community, please contact us at info@acy.org. 


Education Funding: Closing the Disparities 

The Maryland Education Coalition held a Town Hall to discuss critical education funding and policy matters for this legislative session and how the community can work together to ensure that the rights of Maryland’s children are a top priority. Schools statewide have been grossly underfunded over the past decade and state action to put education funding back on track is long overdue.

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated disparities that already disproportionately impact Black and Brown, low-income, ELL, special education students and gifted learners in those groups. Keynote speaker, Emma Dorn, Global Education Practice Manager for McKinsey and Company, discussed the impact of COVID-19 and learning loss, as well as associated disparities. 


Webinar: Save the Date

Join Nonso Umunna, our Research Director, on February 9th from 11AM-12:15PM for our second webinar, African American Families in Maryland: A Perspective Through Data.

Using data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Center, Nonso will review the dynamics of the data in Maryland as well as the leadership and advocacy needed.

To register, click here.  Until then, check out our previous webinar held on December 2020, Together in Isolation: A Community Action Plan Toward Response and Recovery.


Melissa Rock, our Birth to Three Strategic Initiative Director, testified in support of these bills.

HB28 - Implicit Bias Training - This bill expands upon last year's groundbreaking legislation, which passed in response to Black women being 4 times more likely to die after childbirth than their White peers. The bill will increase the number of medical providers for which participation in implicit bias training is required, and tie participation to licensure; appropriate the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to ensure there are appropriate resources to address racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes; and require disaggregated data on health outcomes be collected and posted at least every 6 months on the Maryland Department of Health's website.

SB393-Maryland Medical Assistance Program and Health Insurance–Coverage and Reimbursement of Telehealth Services- Telehealth eliminates many access barriers to important services including transportation, travel time, and childcare. In addition, the bill expands access to telehealth medical and behavioral health services for Medicaid recipients, as well as urges the General Assembly to keep in place telehealth expansions that have been adopted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

HB392-Child Care Centers - Early Childhood Screening and Assistance- This bill ensures that licensed childcare providers are equipped to screen from newborns to 3 year-old toddlers for developmental disabilities.  Offering this service is critical as 85% of a child’s brain development occurs before 3 years of age, and early interventions can ensure that any disabilities do not negatively impact brain development. 

SB211- Labor and Employment - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2021) This bill ensures the availability of extended paid leave, even for low-wage workers, to take time off when they themselves or their loved ones need care. To find out more about this Act, click here.

For more information on our legislative agenda, click here.


This week Rachel White, our child welfare policy director, spoke in opposition of SB57, which effectually takes away current protections for youth in need, including foster youth. If passed, this bill would eliminate protections that we rely on to guard young people from potentially abusive and neglectful caregivers.

Rachel also testified in support of:

  • SB 155 – Higher Education - Tuition Exemption for Foster Care Recipients and Homeless Youth - Alterations and Reports

This bill makes strides for foster and homeless youth who pursue higher education in the following ways:

  • Changes the method by which a public higher education institution is required to verify that a youth is homeless;
  • Provides that foster and homeless youth who receive tuition exemption are entitled to priority consideration for on-campus housing; and
  • Requires public higher education institutions to make application for certain tuition exemption available to current and prospective students.


  • HB 413 - Judges - Implicit Bias - Testing, Training, and Evaluation

This bill is instrumental in reducing biases by judges; it requires that each judge in Maryland receive tests, training, and evaluation for implicit bias, and that resulting data is made available to the public.

For more information on our legislative agenda, click here.


Over the past year, Advocates for Children and Youth's Board of Directors and Staff have been working on refining our approach to advocacy. We shared our mission statement, launched our campaign, Equity for All Kids during the 2020 legislative session, and continue to be responsive and preemptive to the new challenges that the pandemic has either magnified or exposed. 

To give you further insight into our progress toward racial equity and inclusion both internally and externally, we are sharing our Strategic FrameworkTheory of Changeand Values.  With these tools in hand, we will work toward building a strong Maryland by advancing policies and programs to ensure children and families of every race, ethnicity, and place of birth achieve their full potential.

Advocates for Children and Youth
One N. Charles Street | Suite 2400 | Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Advocates for Children and Youth is funded by: Abell Foundation | The Annie E. Casey Foundation | Arnold Ventures | Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation | Clayton Baker | The Fund for Change | Fund for Families with Young Children | Greater Washington Community Foundation | Lockhart Vaughan Foundation | Meyer Foundation | OSI-Baltimore | Partnership for America's Children

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