About CHDI

Our Commitment to Equity & Racial Justice


CHDI is committed to building a healthier, more just, and equitable society so that children can grow up to lead healthy and productive lives. We are working to root out the deadly effects of anti-Blackness, racism, and injustice that compromise the health and development of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) children and their families. We are also on a journey as an organization to become an anti-racist and inclusive organization that uplifts all of our staff, board, and partners.

Learn more about our organizational work to promote equity and anti-racism:

CHDI's Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE) 

The purpose of the CARE Committee is to recommend, implement, and monitor adherence to standards for culturally appropriate and anti-racist policies, and practices within the organization in order to advance health equity and wellness.

The CARE Committee is comprised of a diverse group of CHDI staff, including project coordinators, data analysts, senior associates, and senior management. We are a passionate and energized group committed to unraveling systems of racial injustice and systems inequities that have affected children and families of color for far too long. 

The Committee was created in 2008. What started as a way to address and incorporate cultural competence in our work, has evolved into explicitly pushing for data-driven, anti-racist policies. We recognize that we must intentionally and actively work to dismantle the systems of inequities that are at work in our society and within our own organization. This past year we’ve taken a more aggressive and explicit stance on racism that affects BIPOC, but there is much more work to be done. While making changes to centuries-old systems cannot happen overnight, CHDI is taking responsibility and pledging to do this critical work.

Activites include:

  • Provide all-staff trainings and events to help employees recognize racism and other forms of oppression, develop strategies to combat internal and structural racism, and foster personal growth.
  • Assess staff awareness, skills, and needs related to cultural competence, cultural humility, and health equity through annual surveys. Results are used to plan staff development activities.
  • Enhance our own internal policies including hiring and retention of diverse staff.
  • Work to improve service delivery in Connecticut by developing and implementing best practices (i.e., CLAS, data collection and analysis) surrounding health inequities.
  • Write and publish on key topics to address health inequities as a result of institutional racism.
  • Use our platform and position to advocate for reform to key systems such as health insurance reimbursement for mental health treatments.

To learn more, you can contact Ashley Loser, Data Analyst, who serves as the CARE committee chair and Julie Tacinelli, Vice President of Communications, who serves as the chair’s advisor.  


2020 National Child Traumatic Stress Network Virtual Summit  

CHDI was selected from 70 applicants to participate in the 2020 National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Virtual Summit Initiative, “Being Anti-Racist is Central to Trauma-Informed Care: From Awareness to Action.” The overall  goal of the Summit Initiative is to assist organizations in moving towards becoming anti-racist by inspiring them to take action across four domains: 1) norms and organizational culture; 2) service delivery; 3) organizational policies and practices; and 4) external messaging, partnerships, and advocacy.

As part of the NCSTN Initiative, the team:

  • Completed pre-work designed to assess how the mission and values of CHDI align with an anti-racist agenda.
  • Attended the half-day Summit on September 15th, 2020. 

During the Summit, the team worked to identify several action steps to move CHDI towards our goal of becoming an anti-racist organization. Between now and the end of the Summit Initiative in March of 2021, the team will work to implement all identified action steps with ongoing support from the NCTSN. 

The team includes: Jason LangJeana BraceyBrittany LangeJamie LoCurtoStephanie Luczak, and Ashley Nelson

Statement on Racial Injustice 

June 4, 2020

Statement on Racial Injustice from the Child Health and Development Institute

The murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, and the recent killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, have shaken us to the core. The horror of these events are emblematic of the deep injustices present in our society, reflected in incidents of police brutality, racism, and injustice perpetrated against countless Black Americans. We cannot allow racial injustice and violence to continue. Here at CHDI, we denounce police brutality, racism, and injustice and add our voice to the call for racial justice and equity in our communities, state and nation.

Centuries of structural racism contribute to unjust conditions that permeate our systems and institutions and result in measurable harm to children and families of color.  Connecticut ranks as the 4th healthiest state overall, yet it ranks 41st among all states for racial/ethnic disparities in health status. A child’s race and zip code are powerful determinants of their lifelong health and economic outcomes. Too many children of color are not able to reach their potential due to widespread racism and inequities that start from birth. 

We must ensure that every child has the right to grow up healthy and thrive. We must ensure that every parent can raise their child in a safe and healthy environment. This is fundamental to CHDI’s vision, and it guides our daily work.

It is our collective work to root out the deadly effects of racism and injustice in our own lives and in our society. At CHDI, we have an additional responsibility to address the institutionalized racism and injustice in health and child serving systems that have compromised the health and development of children and their families. We join partners throughout the state and country by standing in solidarity with Black Americans and communities of color to root out racism. We also commit to working with child-serving systems to help build a healthier, more just, and more equitable society so that all children can grow up to lead healthy and productive lives.

Jeffrey Vanderploeg, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Child Health and Development Institute
CHDI at Work to Address Disparities and Reduce Inequities  

Many of CHDI’s initiatives work to address disparities and reduce inequities among children and families in Connecticut, as shown below. We are committed to doing more work in these areas in the future. 

  • Evidence-Based Treatments: CHDI analyzed data on over 45,000 children to look at disparities and equity in outcomes across EBTs. The data suggest that evidence-based treatments result in greater improvement than usual care treatments while also reducing disparities for children of color. 

  • Connecticut's School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI): SBDI reduces arrests and exclusionary discipline in schools by connecting students to behavioral health supports. School-based arrests, expulsions, and suspensions disproportionately affect Black and Latino students and students with special needs. SBDI has helped 56 schools reduce court-based referrals by one-third and increased connections to behavioral health services by 42%. 

  • Mobile Crisis: Mobile Crisis Intervention Services promotes health equity in Connecticut as a widely accessible program provided at no cost to families. Mobile Crisis has consistently been utilized by Black and Hispanic children at a higher rate when compared to the Connecticut child population.

  • Educating Practices: Educating Practices trains pediatric primary care providers to implement best practices on a range of topics and integrates health equity information when available. CHDI is currently developing a two-part module addressing racism, implicit bias, screening for racial trauma, and referral to services.

  • CONNECT: CHDI serves as the coordinating center for CONNECT. A core focus of CONNECT is to align behavioral health care with the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards through workforce training and the development of the CLAS Toolkit: Advancing Equity and Racial Justice in Children's Behavioral Health

  • SparklerCHDI and Connecticut's Office of Early Childhood are disseminating a mobile application to increase developmental screening, surveillance, and developmentally appropriate activities in communities disproportionately impacted by racial, economic, and health disparities.

  • Statewide Councils, Groups, and Committees: CHDI is involved with many statewide groups including: Health Equity Trust Kitchen Cabinet, Connecticut Primary Care and Related Reforms Work Group, Connecticut DPH Medical Home Advisory Council, and The Connecticut Statewide Immunization Work Group. 

CHDI Publications Related to Equity  Funding Opportunities to Improve Health Equity 

Innovations to Improve Health Equity during COVID-19 

CHDI, through funding from the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, has awarded research grants to four organizations to identify effective practice, policy or system level changes implemented during the pandemic. The funds will identify promising adaptations that have addressed long-standing inequities and disparities and make recommendations for sustaining those innovations. The following organizations were awarded research grants:  

  1. Childhood Prosperity Lab of the Office for Community Child Health at Connecticut Children's Medical Center will explore innovations adopted in community-based, pediatric primary care sites.
  2. Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, Inc. will investigate innovations adopted by children’s behavioral health providers, as well as how state agencies are supporting these innovations.
  3. Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers will survey its membership of more than 100 school based health centers to determine how they have carried out their work at a time when schools are not in session. 
  4. Center for Applied Research in Human Development at University of Connecticut will focus its investigation on K –12 schools, with particular interest in how school-based mental health services were continued during the pandemic.

Other Funding

  • Payment Reform in Pediatric Primary Care: The purpose of this grant is to explore the feasibility and resources needed to integrate innovative, community-based, and evidence-based health promotion and prevention services into pediatric primary care. Proposals must demonstrate attention to health equity among diverse socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups. ​Project outcomes are expected to inform and advance efforts by policymakers, practitioners, program staff, and advocates committed to health equity and payment reform in pediatric primary care.
  • Residency Training Grant Program: This pilot grant program supports the development of pediatric primary care, family medicine, and nurse practitioner training programs in Connecticut.  This is an opportunity for training programs to develop and implement primary care experiences for residents, and support their residents in gaining an understanding of how primary care can collaborate with community services to promote population health, health equity, and socio-emotional health and well-being.
  • Infant Mental Health: The Children's Fund of Connecticut provided funding for the Connecticut Association for Infant Mental Health to purchase and implement a Spanish language version of the infant mental health endorsement program. Learn more about how Connecticut is working to build an expert infant and early childhood workforce.
Cultural Competency and Anti-Racism Resources  

As part of our CARE Committee work, key cultural competency and anti-racism resources related to awareness, knowledge, and skills were identified.