Join Us for a Congressional Briefing!

Building Connections that Address

Maternal and Infant Health Disparities

In the Senate: Monday, March 30, 2020 from 2:00-4:00 pm

Location: 385 Russell Senate Office Building

In the House: Tuesday, March 31, 2020; Time: TBD

Location: TBD

To attend this briefing, register HERE

Attendance is free-of-charge

Can't attend?  Don't worry! Catch us live on our Facebook page!

Bipartisan efforts to reduce health disparities among rural and minority communities and improve economic mobility cannot succeed without addressing the economic and social drivers of health – often called “social determinants of health”. Individuals in rural and minority communities experience both cross cutting social determinants. Poverty affects access to quality housing, food, and the ability to withstand economic shocks. Education and economic opportunity affect income and health decision making. Inadequate transportation, environmental contaminants (e.g., mold or lead in substandard housing), and discrimination also contribute to health disparities. These problems account for more than half of the premature deaths every year.1 A disconnect between individual needs and the disproportionate availability of services with adequate capacities exacerbates health disparities.


Current policy efforts related to maternal and infant health provide an opportunity for reducing disparities and improving economic mobility. Issues contributing to disparities in this context include mental health, substance use, isolation, trauma, intimate partner violence, physical safety and accidental injury, and material needs. In communities where related services are available, a systemic gap in coordinating screenings and referrals may remain. Access to such support may be particularly diminished in rural communities. Promising practices in service delivery models, workforce development, and digital innovations have the potential to enhance access points and resources.


This briefing will cover a few issues related to health disparities: (i) identifying complex needs that contribute to disparities, (ii) workforce development, including training community health workers, and (iii) expanding access to care via telehealth.

Thank you for distributing this announcement to your professional networks.

1. Anna Spencer, Bianca Freda, Tricia McGinnis, and Laura Gottlieb, M.D. “Measuring Social Determinants of Health Among Medicaid Beneficiaries: Early State Lessons.” Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc., December 2016.


Tentative Briefing Agenda

Opening Remarks: Congresswoman Robin Lynne Kelly (March 31st )


Risk Screening and Social Determinants of Health

Kamila Alexander, John Hopkins University, School of Nursing


Community Health Workforce Development

Luke Russell, Illinois State University


Expanding Access via Telehealth

Dhara Meghani, University of San Francisco


Interactive Virtual Presence to Improve Child Safety

David Schwebel, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Testimony on the Impact of Telehealth Services on Sexual Assault Healthcare

Jessica Birbeck, Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center


Moderator: Vetta Thompson, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis


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Please consider sponsoring this effort to ensure it is a success. We will need financial support for travel (both speakers and organizers) and accompanying materials.  Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Sponsors will be acknowledged on the briefing announcement online and during introductory remarks at the event.  We can also include related materials on our handout table.

For more information about this briefing, contact:

Çağla Giray, Ph.D. Policy Associate, Research-to-Policy Collaboration, Pennsylvania State University (

ABOUT US: The NPSC is composed of scientists, educators, practitioners and clinicians, policy makers, foundation representatives, and affiliated organizations, housed at Pennsylvania State University.  We work in a nonpartisan manner with Congressional offices and Caucuses and collaborate with like-minded groups and federal agency administrators (e.g., NIH, SAMHSA, ONDCP, OJJDP, CDC) in a mutual advisory capacity.  Coalition members share a common goal of applying validated scientific findings to wide-scale effective implementation of practices and policies to improve the lives of children, adolescents, their families and communities.  We work across sectors to address challenges in mental and behavioral health, education, poverty, juvenile and criminal justice, adverse environmental influences and social conditions that contribute to chronic illness and social ills. Our work includes congressional briefings, policy papers, op-eds, and fact sheets for the public and private sectors. We have conducted 20 previous prevention-related briefings (Addiction vs. Dependence; Child Poverty; Foundation & Gov't Partnerships; School Violence, Safety, & Well-Being; Preventing Human Trafficking; Budgeting for Evidence-Based Prevention; Police Community Relations; Home Visiting; Childhood Poverty; Violence and Sexual Assault Against Women; Evidence-Based Policy; Preventing Opioid Addictions; Healthy Parenting through Primary Care; Reducing Poverty; Violence Prevention; Economics of Prevention; Science to Policy; Juvenile Justice Reform; Scaling-up Implementation; and Interventions Across Policy Areas). Briefings are designed to be of value to legislators, staffers, administrators, researchers, evaluators, educators, practitioners, advocates, and funders.

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