On Jan. 29, the Sacramento County Child Death Review Team that includes the departments of Child, Family and Adult Services
, Human Assistance
as well as First 5 Sacramento
went before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to present a report of the FY 2017-2018 progress of the Black Child Legacy Campaign. Those in the county-wide initiative were proud to share that in three of the four leading causes the rate of child deaths in the African American community has decreased due to County investments.
During FY 2017-2018, staff worked with over 70 community-based organizations throughout Sacramento County to increase awareness of the Black Child Legacy Campaign. Organizations provided home visitations, safe sleep trainings, parenting classes, youth mentorship and after-school programming to intervene early and reduce childhood deaths.
“A significant part of the effort was the Sacramento County Cultural Broker Program,” said Michelle Callejas, Sacramento County Director of Child, Family and Adult Services. “Cultural Brokers have specific knowledge of the values, beliefs and practices of the community in which they serve, and they act as liaisons to engage families involved with Child Protective Services to navigate the system and improve outcomes for families.”
At the Board of Supervisors meeting, families who were part of the Cultural Broker Program said that the Cultural Broker felt like a family member and that the Cultural Broker Program gave them hope. A Child Protective Services worker also informed the Board that Cultural Brokers are critical to engaging with the families she worked with and how their culturally responsive services played a key role in not only reunifying these families but also setting them up to be successful in making a fresh start.
From the surveys provided to the 73 families assigned to Cultural Broker services, 100 percent of the survey respondents said that they gained a better understanding of safety concerns and risk factors, and gained better communication and increased trust with Child Protective Services.
The Department of Human Assistance is another key player in reducing African American child deaths in Sacramento County. Since 2015, the department has provided Human Services Specialists for each of the seven focus neighborhoods. During FY 2017-2018, the department began conducting meetings with the seven neighborhoods to share successes, lessons learned and process improvements. The Human Services Specialists and Program Planners work in small groups to create new ideas for service delivery to their community partners, families and individuals.
“As a result of the work from the Department of Human Assistance, since FY 2015-2016 we have continued to demonstrate success in increasing access to health care, decreasing food insecurities by offering CalFresh and the Restaurant Meals program, assisted 185 individuals in housing assistance and assisted 146 individuals in obtaining employment,” said Ann Edwards, Director, Department of Human Assistance.
During FY 2017-18, three new Probation Officers joined the Black Child Legacy Campaign initiative. Probation Officers work shoulder-to-shoulder with partners in addressing challenges that face the community. Officers collectively engage the community in ongoing dialog about Black Child Legacy Campaign topics and participate in activities and events. The relationships and discourse bring awareness to the risk factors that drive disproportionate child deaths.
“The strength of our partnership is evident in the outcomes we are seeing and it is a true reflection of collaboration. Our on-site Probation Officers actively work with the BCLC neighborhood teams to improve access to service, engage the community, and support our youth and families,” said Lee Seale, Chief Probation Officer. “Last year, our Officers worked with 111 youth, referring 62 to local community based providers to address the risk factors related to third-party homicide.”
First 5 continues to be an active partner in the Black Child Legacy Campaign. Between 2013–2021, the Commission will have allocated nearly $14 million to the effort. First 5 funds programs including SacHealthyBaby, Safe Sleep Baby, cultural brokers, family resource center, and the Steering Committee.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Black Child Legacy Campaign, connect with your Community Incubation Lead, join the Community Leadership Roundtable or Steering Committee or become a communication vendor. Learn more on the Black Child Legacy website