|CHF In Action|
There is a tremendous need for public education and outreach in underrepresented and minority communities throughout the United States to address the issue of childhood lead poisoning as well as other preventable diseases. CHF works to fill the educational and institutional gaps by providing unlimited access to resources that will not only educate children and families but will also empower them to act. CHF consistently works with other cities and states to address the lack of education and support the implementation of preventive, proactive programs designed to address the needs of underrepresented children.
CHF has worked closely with Mayor Francis Slay, Senator Christopher Bond and the leaders of St. Louis since 2003 to eliminate the threat of lead poisoning and establish a successful education and outreach campaign - Lead Safe St. Louis. From 1999-2003 more than 1,500 of the 29,000 St. Louis City children under the age of six were poisoned by lead each year. In 2003, as a response to this staggering statistic, Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Mayor Slay introduced the Comprehensive Action Plan to Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning in St. Louis by 2010.
On November 21, 2003, Dr. Hooks, Mayor Slay, and lead abatement expert Ruth Ann Norton held a press conference to stress a new plan that focuses on primary prevention to eliminate childhood lead poisoning, a dramatic shift from the city's prior approach. The plan called for the following action: coordinating the city's efforts under a single department; focusing first on the most hazardous properties and those in which young children live; immediate inspections of all city homes known to contain lead hazards, as well as older city homes in low-income neighborhoods, and subsequent intervention including remediation and temporary residential relocation; community education on the dangers of lead hazards; and recruiting and training additional contractors to perform lead hazard abatement.
The results are extremely promising. Screening prevalence rate dropped to a record low of 4.4% of children with blood lead levels at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dl), reflecting a 65% reduction over 2003's rate (and more than 30% reduction over 2006's rate). Only 85 children had blood lead levels at or above 20 µg/dl in 2007 compared to 217 in 2003. More than 76% of children tested in 2007 had blood lead levels below 5 µg/dl compared to 52% in 2003.
CHF has been an active participant in the Lead Safe St. Louis program:
In honor of the 2004 National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Dr. Hooks attended St. Louis' Lead Safe Kids and Homes Week kickoff event featuring St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Senator Bond The event was held at the Wallace home, recently remediated of lead hazards as part of the Lead Safe St. Louis program's focus on primary prevention.
The event was attended by community leaders, local supporters, and elected officials who gathered to listen to remarks by Dr. Hooks; Mayor Slay; Senator Bond; Emily Williams, Director of HUD's Healthy Homes program; Ron Smith, Commissioner of Buildings, City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety; Jeanine Arrighi, Director of Lead-Safe St. Louis; and Ruth Ann Norton, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.
Mayor Slay presented Senator Bond with a Mayoral Proclamation signifying the city's commitment to solving the problem of childhood lead poisoning, and Senator Bond pledged his continued support for the city's programs. St. Louis was recently awarded $7 million in HUD grants for lead hazard control and remediation programs, $4 million of which was a Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant championed by Senator Bond, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and the Children's Health Forum. The Demonstration grant program has sent nearly $100 million to 28 cities since its inception in 2003.
In May 2006 Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Secretary Jack Kemp hosted an event in St. Louis with HUD Secretary Al Jackson, Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, and Mayor Francis Slay to highlight the Department's programs to combat childhood lead poisoning and the city's program, Lead Safe St. Louis.
The event was held at the home of Rebecca Qualls, who partnered with Lead Safe St. Louis to remediate her multi-family unit, including windows, doors, stair railings and garage sidings. The work done by the city was funded under the HUD Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant program with a significant match from the owner. Approximately 50 members of the community attended the event and it was covered by radio, television and print media.
Dr. Hooks said of the event: "The City of St. Louis has proven, thanks to the leadership of Mayor Slay and Senator Bond, what determined citizens can accomplish when given the opportunity to prevent childhood exposures to lead hazards. We have a long road ahead, but I'm confident we'll get there. Together, we will ensure all our children can thrive in a healthy and safe environment."
Secretary Kemp stated, "I am pleased Secretary Jackson joined us in St. Louis today as proof that by working together we can make a difference in the lives of our children. Senators Kit Bond and Barbara Mikulski have paved the way for cities by providing the grant funding through HUD. By applying for HUD grants, communities like St. Louis are leading the nation down a path towards the eradication of childhood lead poisoning. We hope all cities will follow suit."
CHF in Wisconsin:
In February 2006 CHF traveled to Milwaukee to meet with Governor Jim Doyle. Dr. Hooks joined the Governor in a community discussion on childhood lead poisoning that included representatives from the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Milwaukee Urban League, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, the faith community, the NAACP and the 16th Street Community Health Center.
The number of children with elevated blood lead levels in Milwaukee has decreased in the past decade, but according to the Milwaukee Health Department, the prevalence of lead poisoning is six times higher than the national average. Milwaukee has continued to show its dedication to ending childhood lead poisoning through the successful awards of HUD Lead Hazard Reduction Grants totaling more than $10 million in federal money to remediate lead hazards since 2003.
CHF in Rochester:
In March 2006 Dr. Benjamin Hooks and the Children's Health Forum traveled to an elementary school in Rochester, NY to join Senator Hillary Clinton, HUD Deputy Secretary Roy Bernardi, and local leaders in applauding Rochester's efforts on lead poisoning prevention. The event included a roundtable discussion on lead poisoning prevention with Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, Representative Louise Slaughter, City Council President Lois J. Giess, former City Councilman Tim O. Mains, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, Executive Director of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning Derrick Hazle, and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.
In 2003, Rochester was named one of 10 cities in the country with the worst lead paint problems. Today, the number of children with elevated blood lead levels has decreased, and legislation passed by the city council is recognized as one of the smartest lead laws in the country. The new law requires apartments to be inspected before they are rented, and the inspections are targeted in several neighborhoods where 90 percent of homes pose a lead hazard.
In an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Senator Clinton called Rochester a "national model" in addressing lead poisoning. Senator Clinton has introduced federal legislation, the Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act, which would provide tax credits for landlords and homeowners who remove lead-based paint hazards. CHF continues to work closely with Sen. Clinton's office on proactive solutions for childhood lead poisoning prevention and reduction of lead hazards in housing.
CHF in New Jersey:
CHF has worked closely with the State of New Jersey to provide support and solutions to address the issue of childhood lead poisoning:
On June 23, 2003 Dr. Benjamin Hooks met with the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus in Trenton. The New Jersey Legislature, led by Senator Ron Rice and Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg, made key strides to reduce the problem of lead hazards.
Senator Rice presented Dr. Hooks with a Concurrent Resolution from the New Jersey Assembly and Senate for his distinguished service and asked him to address the Assembly Democratic Caucus, a special honor.
In January 2004, CHF participated in a bill signing ceremony with Governor James McGreevey as he signed important lead hazard control legislation into law. At the Newark event, Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Senator Ron Rice, author of the bill, spoke to an audience of community leaders, children and affected families about the importance of protecting children from harmful exposures to lead hazards.
Governor McGreevey took the opportunity to announce a statewide initiative that provided every new parent with a lead dust test kit as part of an aggressive primary prevention strategy. In his State of the State address, the Governor tied this new initiative to the lead hazard control legislation, which provides $10 million per year in state grants and loans to property owners with lead hazards in need of remediation.
CHF worked with Governor McGreevey's staff to integrate the lead dust test kits into New Jersey's primary prevention program, following a program implemented by the City of Baltimore.
Champion for Children Award:
In 2003, CHF created its Champion for Children award designed to honor individuals who have demonstrated leadership on health issues that disproportionately affect poor and minority children. The award has been given to eight recipients in recognition of their outstanding contribution to eliminate health disparities and stress the importance of prevention in communities across the United States.
CHF was pleased to honor Senators Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) with its first annual Champion for Children awards in recognition of their dedication and leadership in the fight to eliminate childhood exposures to lead hazards. Senators Bond and Mikulski led the effort in fiscal year 2003, and again in 2004, to secure a $50 million federal lead hazard remediation grant program administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and benefiting the most at-risk cities nationwide.
In December 2003, Dr. Hooks traveled to St. Louis to honor Senator Bond at an event co-hosted by Jim Buford, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; Ina Boon, President of the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP; and Harold Crumpton, President of the St. Louis City chapter of the NAACP. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was also there to honor the Senator.
In March 2004, Secretary Kemp joined Dr. Hooks and local community leaders to honor Senator Mikulski at Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School in Baltimore. The event was a great success, marked by inspiring speeches from Dr. Hooks and Secretary Kemp, and songs from the student choir as a special performance for the Senator. The students also made their own sign for the Senator, and wore CHF t-shirts to commemorate the event.
Dr. Hooks joined local leaders at an award presentation in Syracuse in honor of Congressman Jim Walsh (R-NY). Congressman Walsh received CHF's 2004 Champion for Children award in recognition of his efforts to secure federal funding for the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. We also announced our recent $5,000 grant to the National Center for Healthy Housing for a program with a local Syracuse organization, Home HeadQuarters, to conduct lead remediation in low income home-based childcare facilities.
On February 28, 2005 Dr. Benjamin Hooks honored St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay with CHF's Champion for Children Award at a ceremony at City Hall. Mayor Slay received the award in honor of his progress in fulfilling his plan to eradicate lead hazards in the city by the year 2010. A major success of the program is the 5% decline of children's elevated blood lead levels from 2003 to 2004.
The Mayor's office has overhauled the city's lead program, Lead Safe St. Louis, by creating comprehensive policies that focus on the primary prevention of lead poisoning through housing remediation and early childhood testing. Under the Mayor's guidance, the city government submitted successful applications for several HUD grant programs that resulted in the allocation of over $10 million in funding for lead hazard control.
In 2006, CHF named former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as Champions for Children. As a physician, Senator Bill Frist created the "Children's Health Act of 2000" which focused attention on the critical areas of maternal and infant health. This effort led to the creation of the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was presented the Champion for Children award by CHF Board Member Secretary Henry Cisneros during a luncheon in Los Angeles in December 2006. CHF Board Members Booker Jones and Olivia Morgan also attended the event. Guests at the luncheon included LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Assemblyman Mike Davis, business leaders, community leaders, CHF grantee Pacoima Beautiful, CHF donors, and NFL players.
In November 2007, the Champion for Children awards were presented by Dr. Benjamin Hooks to CHF Co-Chair and former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez at a dinner in Washington. Secretary Jack Kemp is a lifelong champion of housing and urban issues that impact our communities and has served as CHF's co-chair since its founding in 2002. Senator Robert Menendez has shown leadership in the Senate by co-sponsoring legislation that will positively impact families and children and helped lead the fight in support of SCHIP funding.
The event program was led by Univision's national correspondent Lourdes Meluza and included a video presentation of CHF's involvement on childhood disease prevention and tributes to Secretary Kemp and Senator Menendez. In addition to Dr. Hooks and Secretary Kemp, CHF Board Members Susan Molinari and Olivia Morgan attended the event. Senator Bob Corker, Senator Frank Lautenberg, community leaders, and CHF supporters were also in attendance.