This morning, Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Womazetta Jones hosted a roundtable discussion at Children’s Friend, with pediatricians, legislators, and community and state partners regarding Governor Dan McKee’s Rhode Island Rebounds plan.
It was particularly impactful to hear first-hand from pediatricians and early interventionists how the pandemic has impacted their kids and families. The pandemic has resulted in fewer children being seen for pediatric and preventative care, immunizations, and critical developmental screens. When a developmental concern is identified, the workforce staffing crisis has made access to early intervention services unattainable for children, especially children of color. Without these critical services, children are at risk for poor outcomes in health, development, and lower academic achievements, and these negative effects can last a lifetime. As Nobel Prize winner James Heckman has said: “Early experiences can translate into school readiness, academic success, and lifetime well-being. Success builds upon success. When more children in a community are ready to learn, community-wide levels of human and social capital rise.”
Children’s Friend continues to advocate for approval of the Governor’s plan and remains committed to ensuring that our youngest and most vulnerable children have equity and access to these critical services.
The time to act and invest in children is now.