USDA proposes healthier food recommendations for adult and child day cares

We were excited to find this article in the Washington Post detailing a step in the right direction for federally funded meal programs in adult and child day cares working toward healthier kitchens.  The USDA has proposed changes to nutritional requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, including eliminating reimbursements for grain-based desserts like cookies and cake, and no longer offering juice to children under 1 year of age.  Nationwide, this program serves nearly 4 million people per year, so it is crucial that this system incentivizes day cares to provide healthy, wholesome food.  According to one expert, "food choices people make in early childhood are the building blocks for the healthy habits of their lifetime,” which is why we have chosen to partner with school districts in our region convert to healthy scratch cooking as part of our obesity prevention work.

The USDA was also attentive to the need for these changes to be financially sustainable, proposing "requirements that wouldn't boost costs since providers won't be paid more."  Sustainability is also a lynchpin of our work -- in fact, Cheney School District, our first obesity prevention partner, was able to achieve net positive financial results within the first two years of the scratch cooking program, making this a truly sustainable systems change!

You can download the entire Washington Post article here:

Family Impact Network begins rolling launch!

Our newest subsidiary, the Family Impact Network, begins its network administration role for parent-child visitation services in Spokane County July 1!  A partnership with Washington State Children's Administration, this new public-private collaboration is working to implement performance based contracting in the child welfare system, supporting regional service delivery and creating efficiencies within the delivery system while incentivizing positive outcomes for children.  This new delivery system will provide support, allow for flexibility, and offer new data so that social workers and providers can best serve children and families. 

FIN developed out of EHF's strategic focus on preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences as part of its work to improve health outcomes in Eastern Washington.  Stay tuned for more updates as FIN's roll out continues!

Crosscut on research-based interventions in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

Washington State is leading innovation in research-based practices in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  As this article from Crosscut details, resources are being shifted away from dated interventions such as Scared Straight -- which produce poor or null outcomes while costing taxpayers millions -- and toward evidence-based and research-based interventions, as defined in House Bill 2536.  Drawing on partnerships with research institutes and groups across the nation, including Frontiers of Innovation, a research collaborative based at Harvard University's Center for the Developing Child, Washington is looking to use science to develop better policy and practice for child welfare and juvenile justice interventions.  The quote from the article that really resonated with us was:

In short, refusing to cultivate kids — whether it’s turning our backs on them, imposing harsh penalties or trying to ‘scare them straight’ — is not a best practice, and the benefit-cost ratio is dismal.

So right!

One of the featured organizations, Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, successfully reduced out-of-school suspensions by 85% in one year, and tripled its graduation rate since first implementing trauma-informed practices in 2012.  In fact, Lincoln Alternative was the inspiration for our partnership with Rogers High School, which achieved a 35% reduction in out-of-school suspensions in its first year!

Finally, this article perfectly illustrates why we are working with Children's Administration and our new subsidiary the Family Impact Network to bring practices like these home to eastern Washington and introduce new efficiencies in the local child welfare system.  It is only through key partnerships like this, which bring scientific knowledge into conversations with on-the-ground communities, that we will be able to reach our goal of reducing the number of children in foster care in eastern Washington by 50% in five years!

Download the full PDF of the Crosscut article below:

Spokesman stories on aging in Ferry County

Spokesman Review journalist Erica Curless, who writes the weekly "BoomerU" feature, wrote a beautiful article on aging in remote Ferry County that ran in the June 28 edition of the paper.  Read the full article here, or click below to download a PDF.

The newest part of the Foundation's work to improve health outcomes in Eastern Washington is focused on helping rural seniors gain access to services that preserve their independence and dignity while aging in their own communities.  We are working with nonprofit partners in our neighboring rural counties (including Ferry County) to develop programs to connect rural elders to services such as health coaching and group education opportunities, with two main goals: to improve participants' feeling of control over their own health, and to decrease unnecessary emergency service utilization.  Stay tuned for more updates on the Rural Aging Services Initiative, our newest grant making program!

Update:  Definitely take a look at this article which ran as the June 29 Boomer U story as well, which features some of our nonprofit partners working to support healthy aging in the Tri-Counties!

Great Community Conversation at Threads: Spokane with Independent Sector!


Antony Chiang, President of the Empire Health Foundation, issued a call to action for Threads Spokane participants: “This is our time.” Participants noted the strengths and weaknesses of the local nonprofit community and committed to working together on the path ahead.

Leaders of the Spokane charitable community demonstrated great pride in their track record of collaboration among funders, nonprofits, government, and the corporate community. But this is a community that takes a long view of the work before them--recognizing that they need to work together in deeper ways, building greater levels of trust among players, in order to meet the challenges ahead. This is a community that exhibits a clear sense of shared ownership of its future.

As we have heard in communities across the nation, the sector in Spokane is concerned about downward pressure on resources, including the time to think and plan. The needs of the surrounding rural communities were more pronounced here than in other Threads cities, and leaders consistently spoke to the need to build new efficiencies into the ways in which their work is done.