The Abbott Fund, the foundation of the global healthcare company Abbott, is the first funder to support Easterseals’ newly established Black Child Fund, with a $250,000 grant to advance health equity by addressing racial disparities in healthcare among young Black children with autism and other disabilities. The Easterseals Black Child Fund has been established to provide timely diagnosis and appropriate care to help address these longstanding disparities, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Abbott Fund’s support will help improve the early intervention, diagnosis and treatment of autism and other neurological conditions including developmental delays that can have long-term physical and behavioral impact. Funding will benefit communities served by three Easterseals Affiliates: Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford; Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley; and Easterseals Midwest in Missouri and Kansas.
According to research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black children with autism are less likely to be identified at an early age and often wait on average more than three years before getting a formal diagnosis so that evidence-based interventions can be delivered. Early diagnosis is key because delayed interventions are often not as effective and often result in the need for longer and more intensive support that increases costs for care.
“Through the Easterseals Black Child Fund, we intend to change the trajectory for Black children in America with autism and disabilities moving forward,” said Easterseals President and CEO Angela F. Williams. “The pandemic has heightened our awareness of the health disparities in the Black community that begin early in life and are often driven by key Social Determinants of Health, such as a lack of access to quality healthcare, education and economic opportunity. Through the Abbott Fund’s support of our Black Child Fund, we intend to begin to remedy this immediately through the work of Easterseals in DuPage County, Fox Valley, and Rockford (IL) as well as in St. Louis and Kansas City (MO).”
Community outreach to advance free online access to The Ages & Stages Questionnaires® screening tool that captures developmental progress in children between the ages of one month to 5 and a half years is among the goals of the funding provided by the Abbott Fund. Working with communities, churches, schools, and pediatricians, Easterseals will leverage the screening tool to help assure early identification of developmental delays among young Black children. Additional support includes the establishment of family navigation services to streamline diagnostic approaches for a quicker introduction to therapy, as well as building capacity by training professionals to help patients locally.
“Abbott and the Abbott Fund are committed to advancing health equity for communities of color and we believe the Black Child Fund can make a difference in expanding services and providing quality health care to Black children with autism and other disabilities,” said Melissa Brotz, president of the Abbott Fund and vice president of Global Marketing and External Affairs at Abbott. “Easterseals is a trusted organization that works alongside the people they serve to support people’s ability to live better and healthier, a mission we share. We’re proud to be the first funder of this important new initiative.”
The Easterseals Black Child Fund leverages the organization’s expertise in delivering early childhood services for more than 100 years through its Network of 67 Affiliates in communities nationwide while creating training curriculum, sustainable programs, and scalable resources to benefit at-risk youth. With a fundraising goal of $5 million, the Fund promises to make a difference for children that will follow them throughout their lives.