Educare Atlanta: Fostering Child Health

Posted November 18, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog educareatlantafosteringchildhealth 2013

Four-year-old Adri­an­na Crews suf­fered from colds all the time. After her moth­er, Matrice Lowe, enrolled her at Edu­care Atlanta, Adrianna’s teacher and the school’s health nav­i­ga­tor — a nurse from Chil­dren’s Health­care of Atlanta — urged her to seek med­ical treat­ment for the child.

They said it was not nor­mal for her to be con­gest­ed all the time,” Lowe recalls. After mul­ti­ple diag­noses — bron­chi­tis, aller­gies, hives, chron­ic sinusi­tis and pink eye — Adrianna’s doc­tor con­firmed that she was suf­fer­ing from chron­ic asthma.

Edu­care Atlanta launched the Healthy Begin­nings Sys­tem of Care in ear­ly 2011, inte­grat­ing qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ences with health ser­vices to ensure that chil­dren in the Atlanta Civic Site are healthy, devel­op­ing on track, thriv­ing social­ly and emo­tion­al­ly and achiev­ing aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess by the end of third grade. 

Although Lowe was unfa­mil­iar with asth­ma, its treat­ment and the trig­gers that could cause flare-ups, she found a ready guide in Edu­care Atlanta’s health nav­i­ga­tor, who gave her the infor­ma­tion she need­ed to ensure Adri­an­na received the best care possible.

When the asth­ma con­tin­ued to flare up after Adri­an­na had begun to receive treat­ment, the health nav­i­ga­tor referred the fam­i­ly to the Green and Healthy Homes Ini­tia­tive (GHHI) at The Cen­ter for Work­ing Fam­i­lies Inc., where Lowe was already enrolled as a par­tic­i­pant. GHHI is a fed­er­al­ly fund­ed effort to inspect old­er homes in Atlanta and pro­vide weath­er­iza­tion, ener­gy-effi­cien­cy improve­ments, lead-haz­ard reduc­tion and inter­ven­tions to address any asth­ma trig­gers, safe­ty haz­ards and oth­er unsafe conditions.

When the GHHI inspec­tors came to the Lowe home, they found numer­ous issues that were like­ly exac­er­bat­ing Arianna’s asth­ma, includ­ing mold, mildew, mois­ture inside the home’s walls, air fil­ters in need of replace­ment and insuf­fi­cient insu­la­tion in the crawl space. 

I told Arianna’s doc­tor, and he said we need­ed to get out of there ASAP,” Lowe remem­bers. We had been liv­ing there for four years!”

The GHHI pro­gram pro­vides free home rehabs and improve­ments to homes owned and occu­pied by low-income res­i­dents. Because the Lowe home was a rental, the GHHI inspec­tors shared the results of their inspec­tion with the own­er and encour­aged him to address the issues to pro­tect the health of his renters. He refused. 

Faced with the knowl­edge that her home was aggra­vat­ing her daughter’s asth­ma and with her landlord’s refusal to make any improve­ments, Lowe worked with cen­ter and Edu­care Atlanta staff to get per­mis­sion from the Atlanta Hous­ing Author­i­ty, which was sub­si­diz­ing the family’s rent, to move into a safer home. The request was ini­tial­ly refused, but once the GHHI inspec­tors shared pho­tos and details of the sit­u­a­tion, the hous­ing author­i­ty agreed, and the Lowe fam­i­ly moved into a beau­ti­ful house on a cul-de-sac in a nice subdivision.

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