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March 24, 2020

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Headlines of the Week

The GOP Just Smuggled Another Awful Provision Into the Stimulus

With coronavirus cases in the U.S. mounting into the tens of thousands and the economy sliding into recession, Congress is locked in a brutal standoff over a $1.8 trillion economic rescue package. Democrats are outraged by a measure that budgets $500 billion for corporate bailouts that the administration could administer with little transparency, which they call a "slush fund." That provision is bad enough. But there's another one hidden in the massive stimulus bill, which was drafted by Senate Republicans, that Democrats also see as a major sticking point. And the battle that's brewing over this particular provision says a great deal about the stark divide between the parties' priorities over how to help the country through this crisis. The provision in question is a limitation on funding that the GOP stimulus bill has built into the measure that sets aside $350 billion to provide loans for small businesses. That money would be available to small businesses that don't lay off workers. According to language in the bill forwarded to the Washington Post by a senior Senate Democratic aide, this provision excludes "nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures," which would not be eligible for those loans. This language has been interpreted in some quarters as an effort to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, a longtime GOP target. But Democratic aides think the language means a lot more than this. Specifically, Democratic aides believe this language would exclude from eligibility for this financial assistance a big range of other nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers, and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers. (Washington Post, 3/23/2020)


Are You Home Schooling Your Kids? Don’t Forget Sex Education.

When schools across the country closed in response to COVID-19 concerns, parents and caregivers expressed relief that their kids would be staying home and be just a bit safer. But it wasn’t long before worry set in: “How am I going to get any work done while my children are home? Who is going to watch them? Do I have to teach them geometry? Do I even know geometry?” The switch to virtual learning or homeschooling may be overwhelming, and yes, some people might have to brush up on their geometry or U.S. history, but while planning out kids’ days and learning sessions, don’t forget to pencil in some time for sex education—no matter their age. It’s normal to feel nervous about talking to kids about sex and relationships. But sex education is education—and if people are braving math, science, and history to help kids with their studies, then the same should be done for sex ed. Sex education is more than telling kids about their reproductive organs—it teaches a set of life skills that include navigating relationships, advocating for boundaries, and effective communication, in addition to reproductive and sexual health. And there is an abundance of resources to help guide this journey. (Rewire News, 3/23/2020)


Reproductive Health Telemedicine Is Here During COVID-19 Outbreak—but Not for Abortion

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the United States, online birth control and emergency contraception prescribers are seeing an increase in patients, and reproductive health care via telemedicine has become critical. A visit to a primary care doctor or OB/GYN to get something relatively routine, like a birth control prescription, will likely take a backseat during the COVID-19 outbreak, as cities go into various states of lockdown and hospitals brace for an overload of patients. For patients seeking abortion care, a few days of delay can mean a far more invasive and expensive procedure—or no procedure at all. “Many hospitals that provide comprehensive reproductive health care are closing all non-urgent visits like annual exams which could impact people seeking care in these centers,” said Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an OB/GYN in New Jersey and board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health. Telemedicine, or remote medical care, has become an alternate way to receive care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It not only helps keep sick people from congregating but it also protects patients and practitioners. But telemedicine has long been a tool for increasing access to reproductive health care, even as lawmakers in some states ban the use of it for abortion care—so what will accessing reproductive health telemedicine look like during the outbreak? For patients seeking abortion, telemedicine is promising as an alternative, but for now, it’s largely stuck in regulatory limbo. (Rewire News, 3/18/2020)


Why These Sexual Health Educators Took Their Activism Online

Sonalee Rashatwar believes education can be radical. “Any time we are giving someone information about their own body, we are informing them about their rights, and that’s political,” she said. “It destabilizes the structure when I tell someone they don’t have to opt into it.” Rashatwar is a clinical social worker, sex therapist, and grassroots organizer. Known under the Instagram handle TheFatSexTherapist, she also works as a public speaker and sex educator. She does this through her own lens as a person who is queer, South Asian, and fat. Much of that means sharing her own personal story—experiences with dieting and sexual trauma, biphobia, fatphobia, and xenophobia. Only eight U.S. states require that sex education programs be free from racial or gender bias, and only eight mandate that programs include information about sexual orientations. But there’s a new class of sex educators like Rashatwar—on the internet and beyond—who have flipped the script on sex education. They teach it as a justice movement, as activism, as personal. And they include folks and identities that had previously been left out of the conversation. (Rewire, 3/16/2020)
 

Coronavirus Anxiety: How to Cope

As the coronavirus spreads and more cases of COVID-19 pop-up, it can feel hard not to panic—even though keeping calm is one of the main pieces of advice health officials are relaying. On top of the spread of disease, the spread of misinformation is also rampant, only serving to heighten fears. If anyone is starting to freak out about the coronavirus and feel like the world is just one big germ, they are definitely not alone. "I've had several patients come into my office and the first thing out of their mouth is worries about the coronavirus," Ariella Silver, PsyD, Director of the Psychology Training Program at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, told Teen Vogue. So, how can people cope with coronavirus anxiety? Teen Vogue talked with Silver, a psychologist, and Neha Nanda, M.D., Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship with Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, about ways to support mental health during this crisis. (Teen Vogue, 3/10/2020)

This Week on Our Blog

Professional Development You Can Do While Social Distancing

By Gina Desiderio
Stuck inside? I know, I know…most of us are indeed stuck inside, doing the best we can to keep up with life while social distancing ourselves. Email after email, we see the cancelations or postponements for our conferences, trainings, and other events. If you find yourself with some extra time now that your on-site professional development opportunities are non-existent, consider our free elearning resources. You can complete these elearning units at your own pace…and they’re free. Always. Read more...

Funding & Other Opportunities

Pivoting to Remote Work—COVID-19 Response Course Track for Nonprofits

To continue serving their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits may find the need to quickly transition to remote work. TechSoup created a free track of courses to provide information and tools to help with this transition. TechSoup Courses is an online learning resource of free and paid bite-sized training courses created just for nonprofits. This track is normally $110, but it is currently free so anyone can access this information and rapidly respond to the Coronavirus.


The Science of Social Distancing: Part 1 (Webinar)

March 25, 2020
3:00 PM ET

This webinar from the National Academy of Medicine and the APHA will review how COVID-19 is transmitted, historical lessons from past pandemics, the state of the science on social distancing, and the targeted and layered nature of how social distancing practices are enacted.


College Success for Single Mothers - Application for Community Colleges

This is a three-year project (2020-2022)—funded by the Educational Credit Management Corporation Foundation—will assist eight community colleges to identify the needs of single mother students on campus and develop a plan to expand key practices and services to enhance their success in college and careers. Selected colleges will form a cross-functional task force of decision-makers, practitioners, and stakeholders to carry out the activities of the project and receive a $10,000 stipend.
Deadline: 5/1/2020


Webinars on the Experiences of LGBTQ Students of Color

GLSEN recently released a series of four research reports that examines the school experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), Black, Latinx, and Native and Indigenous LGBTQ youth. Each report includes information on the experiences of LGBTQ students of color in middle and high school, examining indicators of negative school climate as well as supports and resources. Throughout March and April, GLSEN and their partners will host webinars about each of the four reports in the series. In each webinar, GLSEN Research Institute staff will highlight findings from the report, including feelings of safety and experiences with harassment and assault at school, school discipline, and school supports and resources. Our partners will then discuss what the report means to them, and how it can be used for the work that they do. The webinar will end with a Q&A session.
Healthy Teen Network $40 for 40

Youth 360⁰Health Justice Strategies to Combat COVID-19: Protecting Vulnerable Communities During a Pandemic

Federal, state, and local governments are struggling to identify best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 while minimizing the negative effects of sweeping public health interventions, especially for poor and marginalized communities, which may be hardest hit. Social distancing and sheltering in place have emerged as key strategies for flattening the curve of the epidemic and mitigating impacts on already-stressed health care systems. Measures to keep people at least six feet apart as much as possible—by closing schools, limiting the operations of nonessential businesses, and urging or requiring people to work from home and avoid gatherings—mean that many people will be sheltering in place for weeks or months. As authorities implement restrictions on personal liberty in some of the areas hit particularly hard by COVID-19, the potential for discriminatory enforcement and police escalation may endanger the safety and civil rights of at-risk and traditionally marginalized populations. Although widely discussed in terms of the steps individuals should take, social distancing also demands commitment from federal, state, and local governments to support and protect particularly vulnerable populations. This is especially urgent for low-income and marginalized communities who are negatively affected by multiple social determinants of health, including people with disabilities; workers who do not have the option of staying home; people experiencing homelessness and who lack access to affordable, safe, and healthy housing; people of color; immigrants, asylees, and refugees; and others who face increased risk of neglect or mistreatment by government authorities. This article from Health Affairs outlines some of the actions state and local governments can take immediately to support the ability of low-income and marginalized communities to safely shelter in place.

Research

HIV Testing Among Adolescents With Acute STIs

Rates of STIs have increased over the decade. Guidelines recommend HIV testing with incident STIs. Prevalence and factors associated with HIV testing in acute STIs are unknown in adolescents. The objective of this study, published in Pediatrics, was to determine the prevalence of completed HIV testing among adolescents with incident STIs and identify patient and health care factors associated with HIV testing. The 1313 participants contributed 1816 acute STI episodes. The mean age at STI diagnosis was 17.2 years, 75% of episodes occurred in females, and 97% occurred in African Americans. Only 55% of acute STI episodes had a completed HIV test. In the adjusted model, female sex, previous STIs, uninsured status, and confidential sexual health encounters were associated with decreased odds of HIV testing. Patients enrolled in primary care at the clinics, compared with those receiving sexual health care alone, and those with multi pathogen STI diagnoses were more likely to have HIV testing. HIV testing rates among adolescents with acute STIs are suboptimal. Patient and health care factors were found to be associated with receipt of testing and should be considered in clinical practice.


Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED): Challenges, Successes, and Promising Practices from Responsible Fatherhood Programs

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and/or psychological aggression carried out by an individual’s current or former intimate partner. IPV is prevalent in society and has lasting adverse consequences for survivors and their children, including poor physical health, psychological distress, and social consequences like isolation from social networks. Given the well established, potentially devastating consequences of IPV for the entire family, there is a critical need for researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers to better understand the services that exist to help prevent IPV and address it effectively when it occurs. This report from Child Trends summarizes findings from the PAIVED research study funded by the Office of Family Assistance and overseen by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Child Trends and their partners, Boston Medical Center and Futures Without Violence, conducted the study, which examines how Responsible Fatherhood programs aim to prevent and address IPV through their programming. Specifically, this report presents information about the approaches that Responsible Fatherhood programs take to provide IPV-related services. It also discusses challenges and successes to providing these services, promising practices, and areas for growth.


The Impact of Health Care Education on Utilization Among Adolescents Preparing for Emancipation From Foster Care

As teens in foster care prepare for emancipation, healthcare navigation is often overlooked, as caseworkers address other social needs. This study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined the impact of healthcare education materials designed for foster youth, called ICare2CHECK. It was hypothesized that ICare2CHECK would increase nonurgent ambulatory healthcare use and decrease emergency/urgent care use. Adolescents aged 16–22 years were enrolled in ICare2CHECK and received health education materials at their baseline study visit. Surveys were repeated every three months to assess healthcare utilization. After 12 months of enrollment, healthcare data for all eligible youth and matched comparison youth over the previous 24 months were extracted from the electronic health record. Electronic health record data were coded as counts of completed nonurgent ambulatory care encounters, completed urgent or emergency encounters, completed foster care clinic visits, and total completed visits. Researchers found that healthcare use significantly decreased over time for both enrolled and comparison youth. Young women, youth engaging in health risk behaviors, and those with a mental health or chronic condition diagnosis used significantly more health care. Receipt of educational materials was associated with a smaller decline in healthcare use and nonurgent ambulatory care use and self-reported use of educational materials was associated with increased utilization in the enrolled condition.

Resources

Support, Self-Care, and Resiliency Video Series

The Womxn Project, SisterSong, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) launched a video series to share information, resources, and support to make sure that even if folks cannot be in spaces together, that people can still build community. In the coming weeks, they will share actions folks can take from home, ways people are caring for themselves and keeping their families safe, and how everyone can support their communities. If any organization is interested in sharing a video and/or signing on as co-sponsors, they can fill out this form to indicate their interest.


Adolescent Health: What Works In Schools

The CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health has established an evidence-based approach to school-based HIV and STD prevention, which includes quality sexual health education, connecting students to sexual health services, and establishing safe and supportive school environments. These strategies benefit all students and can be tailored to address health outcomes other than sexual risk behaviors, including high-risk substance use, violence victimization, and mental health. Taking this approach improves protective factors and health outcomes for students that can last a lifetime. This fact sheet series translates scientific literature and expertise about what is most likely to be effective in reducing adolescent risk for HIV infection and other STDs.


Ready, Connected, Supported: A Framework for Youth Workforce Development and the YES Project

This working paper from the Center for Promise—the research arm of America’s Promise Alliance—provides an overview of the “Ready, Connected, Supported” framework—the backbone of America’s Promise Alliance’s YES Project. This framework represents a shared approach from which everyone from employers and public officials to community leaders and young people themselves is driving action toward increased opportunities for workplace success and development.


Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the CDC currently reports that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low for young Americans, research on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. This resource published by Child Trends offers information on supporting and protecting children’s emotional well-being as this public health crisis unfolds.
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