In February 2021 and again in July 2021, ACT for Health joined other national organizations in calling for the establishment of a White House Office of Children and Youth and a White House Conference on Children and Youth to elevate the needs of children, youth and their families in his Administration.
In September, 2021 ACT for Health led a multi-stakeholder letter to President Biden to ensure that any Federal efforts regarding children meaningfully include our adolescents. If you would like to sign on to support cohesive, national leadership for children and youth, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 30, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
Re: Endorsement of White House Conference and Office on Children and Youth with Equal Inclusion of Adolescents
Dear President Biden:
In February, you received a letter signed by over 300 organizations and led by Nemours Children’s Health System and others. The letter noted that, thanks to your leadership, the nation has a new opportunity to build better systems and create more prosperous and flourishing futures for all our nation’s children. The letter recommended establishment of a White House Office on Children and Youth and a White House Conference on Children and Youth, to elevate the needs of children, youth, and their families in your administration, at the same time promoting long-term racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic equity.
We are sending you this letter to complement the previous letter and to bring to your attention the ways in which your new administration can begin to act on the health and well-being needs of a critical subset of American children—American adolescents (roughly, children and youth ages 10 through 21).
Adolescents are frequently omitted from health and well-being initiatives, including those for children. Why should this be so when adolescence is now recognized as a time of life when children’s brains are rapidly developing, and adolescents are gaining deep understandings of social and personal justice issues and becoming more civically and politically engaged? The award-winning Frameworks Institute was recently challenged to explore this conundrum. Frameworks found that the “public narrative” (the way the public thinks about an issue) on adolescence dangerously frames young people as alarming threats and adolescence as an unfortunate time of life. This narrative is perilous because it shapes “how we see and think about young people and, in turn, how we as a society choose to support them and their development.”
By putting a special focus on adolescents, the White House and key executive branch agencies could ensure that, in contrast to many past efforts, youth are treated equally to younger children. It could take advantage of the ways in which people knowledgeable about adolescent development think of adolescence as an opportunity and could help implement this new way of thinking. Key ideas from recent consensus reports point the way forward to more productive work with and for our youth, including engaging youth in leadership roles, educating the public about the new science of adolescence and its practical implications, working toward health and social equity, and rethinking mental health and federal governance related to young people, their families, and communities.
Adolescence is critical point in teens’ lives, providing an opportunity to put teens on healthy pathways. We urge you to join us and others to ensure that any Federal efforts regarding children meaningfully include our adolescents.
Lead Organizations and People
· Adolescents and Children Together for Health
· The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
· Youth Mental Health Project
· Youth MOVE National
· Claire Brindis, Dr.PH, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy, University of California-San Francisco
· Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM, Derrol Dawkins MD Endowed Chair in Adolescent Medicine, University of Alabama-Birmingham
· Felton Earls and Mary Carlson, Authors: Voice, Choice and Action: The Potential of Young Citizens to Heal Democracy, Harvard University Press, 2020.
Additional Organizations and People
· Alliance for Strong Families & Communities and Council on Accreditation
· Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida
· School-Based Health Alliance
· Christina Bethell, PhD, MBA, Director, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative; Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
· Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, President and CEO, AcademyHealth
In May 2021, in observance of Mental Health Month, ACT For Health Board members Denise Dougherty and Ayesha Johnson author an AcademyHealth blog on combating Anti-Black racism for child and adolescent flourishing.
ACT for Health organized a session on Addressing Structural Racism for Youth and the Nation at the 2021 Health Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference.
See 2021 Health Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference for the speakers and slides.
In May 2020, during Mental Health Month, ACT for Health released a comprehensive report on "Advancing Teen Flourishing: Moving Policy Upstream" in partnership with AcademyHealth, and funded by Well Being Trust.This report is the result of a five step approach which included:1. A rapid evidence review of interventions and strategies for enhancing youth flourishing;2. A scan of recent, relevant policy recommendations and assessment of their alignment with current evidence;3. A series of key informant interviews with experts and stakeholders to assess persistent policy needs and potential barriers to implementation;4. An updated list of policy recommendations prioritized by a National Expert Panel using a modified Delphi process; and5. A final report summarizing major activities and findings for use by Well Being Trust and the broader adolescent health policy and research communities. Implementation of these policy recommendations will enhance access to the vital conditions necessary to support youth well being and build resilience in adolescents, their families and their communities.
In September, 2019, ACT For Health and AcademyHealth released a Policy Playbook which outlines policy recommendations and advocacy strategies across seven domains identified by the National Summit for Policy & Action on Teen Mental Health Crises convened by AcademyHealth and ACT For Health in June, 2019. With support from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) of Pittsburgh and a National Advisory Panel, the Playbook identified advocacy strategies to support the following conclusions from the Summit:
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