Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CHI takes on the topic of substance addiction and treatment trends

Adelphi University’s Center for Health Innovation continues to tackle some of the toughest issues of today. In 2012, 1.2 million people age 12 and older on Long Island and our immediate surrounding area were classified as living with a substance use disorder according to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administrations, National Survey on Drug Use and Health. For this reason, gaining insight into how mental health professionals understand and treat addiction is a critical health need for our community and the nation.

On July 29, Adelphi’s Center for Health Innovation (CHI) released the results of a poll on addiction and treatment trends. Adelphi has a long standing interest in how we can assist local communities in dealing with substance abuse and mental health. We were the first institute of higher education in New York State designated as a disposal site for National Take-Back Drug Day, a day designed to provide a responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also providing education to the public about potential for the abuse of medication. Through such efforts Adelphi University is taking an active and leading role in bringing together communities and providing data about an often stigmatized, deliberating condition effecting patients, families and communities.

Utilizing the knowledge and expertise from faculty, students and alumni, CHI seeks to find innovative ways of creating a culture of health by providing insight and data focused on both our communities; our most pressing needs and our greatest strengths. CHI’s research and practice is focused on strengthening what works well in communities on a daily basis and addressing social, educational, physical, emotional and economic health. CHI’s mission is to provide a foundation for creating community partnerships and leadership—with the goal of meeting current and emergent healthcare needs. We seek to ask and answer questions that help us understand how we can contribute to a culture of health in our communities and across the nation, we hope this type of commitment to our families and communities can help move the conversation forward and find solutions.

Written by
Elizabeth Cohn, Ph.D., RN, Director
Center for Health Innovation
Adelphi University

Monday, July 28, 2014

Caring for children 0-3, what's a working family to do?

President Obama’s recent White House Summit on Working Families raises awareness of the fundamental inadequacy of U.S. child care policy.  However, the President needs to do more to ensure that the federal government develops and funds universal policies to address U.S. child care needs.   The most recent regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services which are designed to improve the quality of child care in agencies receiving federal dollars will, in the absence of greater resources, do little to address the needs of many of the families they are supposed to help.

Parents across the economic spectrum have trouble finding safe, affordable, stimulating child care that is provided during their work hours.   Most parents, be they single or two parent families,  are working and struggle with family care, particularly, child care.  Sixty one percent of women with children younger than three are in the paid workforce.  The average child spends approximately 27 hours a week in child care in the first 4 ½ years of his or her life.  Approximately half of all children under 3 spend at least 25 hours a week in care with someone other than their parents.  The President noted, paid leave and flexible work conditions can help parents to care for their children but history has shown us that corporate America will not provide these benefits to many workers, particularly non-professional workers, without the inducement of law.

At present, we have a patchwork of public child care policies, providing subsidies for only a minority of those who technically qualify for them and some limited tax benefits.  By addressing this as a universal problem, President Obama is taking a huge step in re-framing the public discourse around child care policy which, since Nixon’s 1971 veto of the Child Care Development Act, has been largely limited to providing more extensive funding for existing poverty based programs. 

Investing in early education reaps huge economic benefits to society, more than those designed for school age children, by reducing the likelihood that these children will be involved in the justice system or be involved with other social benefits programs.  There is currently limited state and federal funding for early childhood education leaving many of those who are supposedly eligible without actual benefits.  In addition, much "high quality" care is not available during the hours that are needed by parents who do shift work or work non-traditional hours.  Kindergarten and universal pre-K are often limited to half day programs which, though they may meet some children’s educational needs, do not address the care needs that their working parents have.

Policies addressing early childhood education have historically been separated from child care policies designed to meet the needs of working parents and parental leave has not been viewed as child care policy, despite the fact that parents who can take leave need not hire someone else to care for their children.   Given the number of working parents who need 8-10 hours of care for their children each day, the separation between policies designed to meet early education and care needs is no longer viable.  Both the needs of working parents and the educational needs of their children have a lasting impact on our society. 

I commend President Obama and his Summit on Working Families for re-framing child care from an isolated policy issue designed only to address the needs of the working poor to a broader universal issue that affects all working Americans and one that is intimately linked with paid leave, flexible work and early education.  We need to do more than say that this is a problem.  First, we need to develop universal policies to educate in-home caregivers so that they can improve the quality of care they provide.  We also need to develop a universal system of center and home based care that models what is already available in much of the industrialized world and use tax dollars to fund it.  Finally, we need paid parental leave and sick leave for all workers, not only those with high status professional jobs. Caring for our children well will provide the US with more than simply economic benefits; it is simply the right thing to do.

Submitted by Elizabeth Palley, an associate professor of social work at Adelphi University, is the author of In Our Hands: The Struggle for US Child Care Policy.