Episode 34 of the More than Health Care: A Community Health Conversation podcast is now available on the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ website and on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. Every other week, a new episode uncovers keys to collaboration and holistic health in pursuit of improved health outcomes and lower costs for all.
With his strong background in public policy research, Milton Little Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Atlanta, reimagined his organization’s focus based on data. Through the numbers, he saw that even though thousands had been helped within the 13 counties served by United Way of Greater Atlanta, there were gaps in opportunity and care. That contributed to the area being listed as one of the communities in the U.S. with the lowest social and economic mobility for underprivileged children.
Little said that his organization’s investment in agencies was “helping those who were fortunate enough to get through the doors of those agencies. But if you were not able to, you basically fended for yourself.” And he also discovered that even agencies that had strong outcomes could not make the type of difference needed to help break the low social and economic mobility status for many children. Once this was recognized, a new approach was taken. “We started using the lens of children and children's outcomes as the way in which we would measure the impact of United Way,” said Little. This included creating a child well-being index measuring 14 different indicators across health, education, and income at the family, community, and individual levels.
The index revealed that of the 1.2 million children in Greater Atlanta, 58.9 percent lived in low child well-being communities. So, a goal was set to improve this condition for at least 250,000 of these children over the course of 10 years. Little understood that this meant improving school access, school readiness, health outcomes, financial outcomes, housing stability, and more. To make this happen, United Way of Greater Atlanta worked to mobilize the entire region for success. And two years into the effort, the well-being index now shows an improvement rate of three percentage points. It may take time, but the initiative is working.
To garner this type of achievement in such a broad and populous area required Little to bring foundations and organizations together for collective impact. He was able to get all involved to move in the same direction through a common set of measurements. The work is not complete, and additional challenges may arise, but with Little’s solid leadership and ability to gather and aggregate data, and then set a positive direction, United Way of Greater Atlanta is set to achieve its targeted goals.
About the Podcast
While many are realizing that collaboration and holistic approaches are the solution, the health care and human services sectors are struggling to find the right formula to realize the full potential. The More than Health Care podcast is designed to help organizations overcome barriers to partnerships resulting from cultural differences, financial pressures, and rules and regulations.
In addition to showcasing inspiring examples of integration from across the country, featured experts will expose the myths, misconceptions, and shortcomings of efforts to address the social determinants of health through collaboration across sectors.
This podcast is presented by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, and Beech Acres Parenting Center, and KVC Health Systems. Cohosts Jill Huynh, vice president of new business development at Beech Acres, and Tim Johnstone, executive vice president of community services at Ascentria, and producer Erin Keltner, vice president of clinical services for KVC West Virginia, work at the intersection of health and human services, bringing the expertise and practical experience to uncover key takeaways for improving health care and human services integration.
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