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
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

References

  1. 1.
    Alameda County Public Health Department (2008). Life and death from unnatural causes: Health and social inequity in Alameda County [Internet]. [cited 2012 May 24]. Available from http://www.acphd.org/data-reports/reports-by-topic/social-and-health-equity/life-and-death-from-unnatural-causes.aspx.
  2. 2.
    Shonkoff, J. P., Boyce, W. T., & McEwen, B. S. (2009). Neuroscience, molecular biology, and the childhood roots of health disparities: Building a framework for health promotion and disease prevention. JAMA, 301(21), 2252–2259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kuzawa, C. W., & Sweet, E. (2009). Epigenetics and the embodiment of race: Developmental origins of us racial disparities in cardiovascular health. American Journal of Human Biology, 21, 2–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lu, M. C., & Halfon, N. (2003). Racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes: A life-course perspective. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 7, 13–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (2008). Health inequities in the bay area [Internet]. [cited 2012 May 24]. Available from http://www.barhii.org/press/download/barhii_report08.pdf.
  6. 6.
    Alameda County Public Health Department (2008). Building blocks for healthy babies, healthy families, healthy communities symposium materials [Internet]. [cited 2012 May 24]. Available from: http://buildingblocksalamedacounty.wordpress.com/2009/10/.
  7. 7.
    Alameda County Public Health Department Community Assessment, Planning and Evaluation and Education Unit (CAPE) (2009). Alameda county vital statistics files birth, fetal death and death files.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Building Blocks Collaborative (2009). Building Blocks Collaborative Website [Internet]. [cited 2012 May 30]. Available from: http://buildingblocksalamedacounty.wordpress.com.
  9. 9.
    Stanford Design School. Use our methods [Internet]. Cited 2012 May 30. Available from: http://dschool.stanford.edu/use-our-methods.
  10. 10.
    Human Centered Design Connect [Internet]. Cited 2012 May 30. Available from: http://www.hcdconnect.org/methods.
  11. 11.
    Berkeley Media Studies Group (2009). What surrounds us shapes us: Making the case for environmental change [Internet]. [cited 2012 May 30]. Available from: http://www.bmsg.org/resources/publications/what-surrounds-us-shapes-us-making-the-case-for-environmental-change.
  12. 12.
    Boone-Heinomen, J., Gordon-Larsen, P., & Kiefe, C., et al. (2011) Fast food restaurants and food stores: Longitudinal associations with diet in young to middle-aged adults: The CARDIA study. ARCH INTERN MED. 171: 13.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations