Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 373–379 | Cite as

The Building Blocks Collaborative: Advancing a Life Course Approach to Health Equity Through Multi-Sector Collaboration

  • Bina Patel Shrimali
  • Jessica Luginbuhl
  • Christina Malin
  • Rebecca Flournoy
  • Anita Siegel


Too many children are born into poverty, often living in disinvested communities without adequate opportunities to be healthy and thrive. Two complementary frameworks—health equity and life course—propose new approaches to these challenges. Health equity strategies seek to improve community conditions that influence health. The life course perspective focuses on key developmental periods that can shift a person’s trajectory over the life course, and highlights the importance of ensuring that children have supports in place that set them up for long-term success and health. Applying these frameworks, the Alameda County Public Health Department launched the Building Blocks Collaborative (BBC), a countywide multi-sector initiative to engage community partners in improving neighborhood conditions in low-income communities, with a focus on young children. A broad cross-section of stakeholders, called to action by the state of racial and economic inequities in children’s health, came together to launch the BBC and develop a Bill of Rights that highlights the diverse factors that contribute to children’s health. BBC partners then began working together to improve community conditions by learning and sharing ideas and strategies, and incubating new collaborative projects. Supportive health department leadership; dedicated staff; shared vision and ownership; a flexible partnership structure; and broad collective goals that build on partners’ strengths and priorities have been critical to the growth of the BBC. Next steps include institutionalizing BBC projects into existing infrastructure, ongoing partner engagement, and continued project innovation—to achieve a common vision that all babies have the best start in life.


Life course perspective Health equity Social determinants of health Local health department Community collaborative 



Thanks to the many Alameda County Public Health Department staff, community partners, residents, project advisors, and funders who have inspired and contributed to the Building Blocks for Health Equity initiative.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bina Patel Shrimali
    • 1
  • Jessica Luginbuhl
    • 1
  • Christina Malin
    • 1
  • Rebecca Flournoy
    • 1
  • Anita Siegel
    • 1
  1. 1.Alameda County Public Health DepartmentOaklandUSA

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