Supporting African American Childcare Providers to Eliminate Health Equity Disparities


a young African American child brushing their teeth in front of a mirror

In the Portland area, the Oregon Public Health Institute’s Right from the Start program, supported through a partnership with PHI, works with African American childcare providers, offering training, resources, technical assistance and materials in a holistic approach to eliminate health equity disparities. Last year their providers collectively served approximately 450 children from primarily low-income, African American families.

$100K+ COVID-19 income recovery funds distributed to African American childcare providers in the Portland area

In the Portland area, the Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI) directs a strategic partnership with PHI, and in 2018 launched their Right from the Start program to support Black childcare providers. The program provides a holistic approach in eliminating health equity disparities, aiming to be the area’s premiere provider of health education and technical support for Black childcare providers, traditional health workers, and early life professionals, in order to improve health outcomes for Black children. The initiative was undertaken through a unique partnership with OPHI and PHI.

When the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic hit, many childcare providers were facing closure. OPHI knew that keeping providers open, safe, and healthy was paramount to the physical health and economic wellbeing of the providers and the families in their care, but sources of support were lacking. 

In response to this urgent crisis, OPHI sought and received emergency response funds from the Oregon Health Authority to support Black providers, distributing over $100,000 in income recovery payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through 2020-21, Right from the Start doubled its number of participating providers; their 35 providers served approximately 450 children, more than 85% from low-income families, and 70% from African American families. The program supported providers and the families they serve by: 

  • providing 2.5 tons of PPE and cleaning supplies.
  • providing remote workstations and business training to help providers grow their businesses and enhance their economic stability. 
  • creating multilingual, culturally-specific, informational videos to support providers in advancing the health of the children in their care.

The videos focus on children’s oral health and on breastfeeding and lactation support. The videos are available in English as well as Tigrinya, Amharic and Swahili. See examples below and find all of the videos here.

Three African american women with a young child talking together in a school room

How You Can Create A Breastfeeding Friendly Environment (English version)

an African American woman with Swahili captions

The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Infant and Family (Swahili version)

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