Public Release: 

Children's Law Center and IMPACT DC partner to improve asthma outcomes in Southeast D.C.

Two-year, $250K grant will target substandard housing that lies at the root of health care disparities

Children's National Health System


IMAGE: This is Stephen J. Teach, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's National Health System and principal investigator of IMPACT DC. view more 

Credit: Children's National Health System

WASHINGTON -- Children's Law Center and Improving Pediatric Asthma Care in the District of Columbia (IMPACT DC) have been selected by a coalition of 12 funding organizations to participate in the BUILD Health Challenge, a national program that leverages multi-sector community partnerships in order to improve health for everyone. Their Washington-specific project, "Healthy Together Medical-Legal Partnership for Improving Asthma in Southeast D.C.," will focus on improving housing conditions for children and youth suffering from uncontrolled asthma in Southeast D.C.

"Asthma is by far the most common chronic disease in children. And it disproportionately affects our most vulnerable children: Disadvantaged and minority kids with poor access to primary care who are living in substandard housing in the southeastern parts of our city," says Stephen J. Teach, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's National Health System and principal investigator of IMPACT DC. "Helping these kids and their families succeed is our collective passion. This project will tackle one of the root causes of asthma flare-ups: Substandard housing conditions that play host to a range of asthma triggers, such as mold, rodents, cockroaches and dust mites."

For 15 years, IMPACT DC has targeted kids and families disconnected from primary care who were overly reliant on hospital Emergency Departments for asthma treatment, Dr. Teach adds. The program partners with them to teach the fundamentals of good asthma care, including how to recognize symptoms, how to control asthma triggers and how to use medications properly. It also connects kids and families with primary care doctors. The project has dramatically increased school attendance and dramatically decreased Emergency Department visits at Children's National due to asthma.

"Through our medical-legal partnerships, our lawyers regularly work side by side with pediatricians to find and fix the root causes of a child's health problem," says Judith Sandalow, executive director of Children's Law Center. "We're thrilled that this partnership will empower us to reach more families and work to find data-driven solutions to the systemic issues of housing and asthma that our clients face each day."

Children's Law Center has a 20-year history of helping children and their families -- including one of every nine of the poorest children in the city's poorest neighborhoods-- tackle seemingly insurmountable problems each year.

Children's Law Center and IMPACT DC are among 19 community projects selected to participate in the BUILD Health Challenge. BUILD awards funding, capacity-building support and access to a national peer learning network. The program emphasizes cross-sector collaboration among local non-profit organizations, hospitals and public health departments to address upstream conditions that create opportunities for better health. BUILD selected Children's Law Center and IMPACT DC because of their Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local and Data-driven (BUILD) ideas to improve the health of Southeast D.C. residents.

Over the two-year period covered by the grant, IMPACT DC and Children's Law Center will work together -- with guidance from BUILD advisers -- to identify and implement innovative solutions to community challenges. Matching funds from Children's National, combined with BUILD's $250,000 grant, will further extend the partnership's capacity to help pediatric patients with uncontrolled asthma living in Southeast D.C. access higher-quality housing.

"Every community faces its own set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to improving the health of its residents," says Emily Yu, executive director of the BUILD Health Challenge. "With this award, we hope to catalyze the work of IMPACT DC and Children's Law Center and bring together residents and organizations from across sectors to address the root causes of health issues in Washington -- and ultimately transform how we think about health in America."


Related resources: School's in for asthma medication adherence

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