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Press Release: Family and Children Advocates Applaud Resolution Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis in Virginia

Family and Children Advocates Applaud Resolution Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Institute for Public Health Innovation applaud Virginia on becoming the first state in the South to declare racism as a public health crisis. Patroned by Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg), the resolution is a necessary step in providing a continuum of care and investments in services across systems that will help Virginia’s children.

Statement from Chloe Edwards, advocacy and engagement manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children

“The pandemic made it painfully clear that communities of color experience greater hardships because of structural and institutional racism. When it comes to our children, we are placing burdens on them that affect their success and well-being into adulthood.

“The psychological impact of racism on children, specifically internalized racism, is well documented. The level of violence and adverse experiences for Black and brown children is also greater. Tamir Rice was 12-years-old when he was fatally shot by the police in 2014.The state must foster a sense of belonging for children and families through intentional acts of inclusion. Passage of this legislation and how it’s implemented is significant in how we fight for the life of every family and child in Virginia.

“To truly create a future that ensures young people feel valued and have the ability to live long, healthy, successful lives, we needed to acknowledge that racism is a public health crisis. Now we can start to reconcile our past from a point of truth. Voices for Virginia’s Children thanks Del. Aird for carrying this historic legislation and fighting for the future of our children.”

Statement from Michael Royster, MD, senior vice president at the Institute for Public Health Innovation:

“I am excited that the General Assembly took this important step in passing Del. Aird’s resolution. As a public health physician, I have seen the ongoing impact of racism on the health of children, families, and communities of color across Virginia. Most acutely, we see the health inequities of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, maternal and infant mortality, asthma and other health outcomes. Historic racial trauma as well as the current impact of implicit bias in healthcare and policing, discrimination in employment and housing, the devaluing of the life experiences and contributions of people of color, and other effects of systemic racism underlie these inequities.

“Addressing health inequities will take courage like the General Assembly demonstrated, not only in passing this resolution, but also following up with funding and support to implement the priorities outlined by Del. Aird. It will also require state and local governments, public and private businesses, and all of the organizations and institutions in Virginia to take a close look at their policies and practices to identify and change those that are contributing to racially inequitable outcomes. All children, families, and communities deserve nothing less than the opportunity to achieve their full potential and to help the Commonwealth thrive.”

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ABOUT VOICES FOR VIRGINIA’S CHILDREN

Founded in 1994, Voices for Virginia’s Children is the Commonwealth’s only independent, multi-issue child policy and advocacy organization. We are home to the KIDS COUNT data center for Virginia, which includes more than 200 state- and locality-level indicators on child well-being over time. Using data and independent policy research, we advocate for sound policy solutions and mobilize support to meet the needs of Virginia’s children. Learn more at vakids.org.