Tuesday, July 7, 2020

VIP-MHP Statement & Action Plan to Dismantle Racism

VIP-MHP Statement & Action Plan to Dismantle Racism

Dear Child Fatality Prevention System Partners,

The Violence and Injury Prevention – Mental Health Promotion (VIP-MHP) Branch, which houses the Child Fatality Prevention System, in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recognizes that racism is a public health crisis. Black and Brown lives matter. Achieving a Colorado that is free from injury and violence is not possible without abolishing systemic racism and white supremacy. We are committed to addressing injustice in Colorado. Our work will continue until all Coloradans have the opportunity to live and have healthy lives, in a way that celebrates intersectional identities including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, education level, age, language, religion, ability, and geographic location. Collectively we all can work to achieve this goal by improving racial justice and other forms of equity through all of our programs and practices.

The VIP-MHP Branch coordinates state and local mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and the prevention of death and injury in Colorado due to unintentional and intentional injuries through health policy, legislation, public awareness and education, training, assessments, data analysis, evaluation, and intervention programs. We are aware that many kinds of injury and violence share the same systemic causes: poverty and economic instability; lack of substance use treatment and mental health services; social norms related to violence; and a lack of social connectedness that affects us all and leaves too many youth unconnected or unsafe at school. As we seek to address these crucial issues, we commit to being responsive to the reality that structural racism intensifies each of them.

As a branch in a government agency, we recognize we hold power and privilege and that our “business as usual” perpetuates white supremacy and anti-Black and Brown racism. We must stop our perpetuation of a white supremacy culture and share our power to dismantle racism. We do not know all of the answers to addressing systemic racism, and yet are responsible to the community for our impact, our actions, and inactions. In order to hold ourselves accountable, we know we must take action to dismantle racism and become anti-racist now.

We've been working over the past month with a new sense of urgency to take concrete and meaningful actions. As a branch, we have some ideas, and we would like to share ownership with you; so, we are asking for your thoughts, questions, and contributions. This initial list of actions is a start that we will revisit and improve over time based on your feedback, and we commit to refine and expand upon this list in partnership with Colorado communities, particularly Black, Indigenous, and other communities of Color. Please see our draft action plan to dismantle racism in our work below:

1. Prioritizing Engagement of Communities

a. Require our work to be led by authentic engagement with communities, actively engaging community representatives, including youth, on issues of racism, and providing or accepting tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color;
b. Reimburse communities, including individuals or community-based organizations, for their expertise by compensating them for their participation and engagement through financial support whenever possible;
c. Build trust, relationships, and alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and record of confronting racism;
d. Encourage community partners and stakeholders in the education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and safety arenas to recognize racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items;

2. Educating Ourselves and Stakeholders

a. Identify the ways in which our program decisions and government systems perpetuate racism, and recognize and take action to address the impact that racism has on individual and population health;
b. Embed efforts to address and dismantle racism into all program efforts;
c. Educate internal and external partners about the public health impacts of racism and strategies to address these impacts;
d. Establish a shared language through creation of a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity;
e. Own the responsibility of challenging all elected officials, leadership, staff, funders and grantees on white supremacy, racism, discrimination, and workplace biases and how to mitigate them;
f. Constantly challenge ourselves and others that dismantling racism is life-saving work that requires not just our commitment but our urgent action;

3. Informing and Changing Policies and Practices

a. Review, challenge, and/or establish written and unwritten rules, practices, policies, and/or ordinances with a racial equity lens;
b. Promote and encourage all policies that prioritize the health of people of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systematic racism and mitigate exposure to adverse childhood experiences and trauma;
c. Conduct human resources, vendor selection, and grant management decisions within our branch using a racial equity lens, including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments, and funding;
d. Prioritize racial equity in addressing risk and protective factors and implementation of strategies in all programs;

4. Resourcing

a. Secure and allocate adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities;
b. Remove barriers for communities to obtain and retain VIP-MHP branch funding.

We commit to these actions as public servants while sharing decisions and power with communities along the way. Recognizing this shared ownership to dismantle racism, we ask that we may join you in this work. We know we may encounter challenges within the broader state and government system, and we commit to working with you to disrupt and address those challenges as they arise. We humbly ask for your partnership, thoughts, input, and expertise. Next, we will be reaching out with opportunities for you to get involved to shape the branch strategic plan and move to apply these activities. We plan on compensating community members as a part of this process. 

If you are interested in getting involved earlier than that, please reach out to your CDPHE contact. You can also give us direct, anonymous, and uncompensated feedback through this Google Form.

Thank you for joining us in this work,

Kate Jankovsky and all CFPS Staff Members

Violence and Injury Prevention - Mental Health Promotion Branch
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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