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DHS Secretary Announces Plans to Extend Grant Funding to Help North Philadelphia Families

Philadelphia, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced DHS’ intent to issue a one-year extension of grant funding for five agencies to support community health workers in North Philadelphia’s Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ). This funding will help grantees continue their work of addressing social determinants of health and promoting health equity and improved health outcomes in the North Philadelphia.

“We know that a person’s health is more than what happens inside of a hospital or in a doctor’s office. A person’s job, education, access to food, and their housing situation all affect someone’s health. Our job at DHS is to provide services and supports that meet Pennsylvanians’ individual needs and help them on a path to happy, healthy lives,” said Secretary Miller. “The work that the HEZ programs are doing to improve the lives of people in North Philadelphia is incredible and essential, and I am very pleased to provide this grant extension so they can continue the good work that they are doing.”

The HEZ is made up of the 19120-26, 19130, 19132-34, 19138, 19140-41, and 19144 ZIP codes In North Philadelphia. It includes nearly 320,000 Medicaid recipients – nearly 13 percent of Pennsylvania’s total Medicaid population. 31 percent of residents living within the HEZ live below the federal poverty line, twice the national average, and the life expectancy of children in the HEZ is 20 years shorter compared to children in wealthier ZIP codes.

In February 2019, the Wolf Administration awarded five grantees $3 million to support projects that would utilize community health workers to promote better health outcomes in the HEZ. This funding created innovative projects that will use community health workers to address health disparities in children, older adults, and those who are frequent users of medical services by increasing health promotion and education in the HEZ.

Secretary Miller highlighted the important work that the HEZ grantees do to improve the health and well-being of people in Philadelphia communities at a graduation ceremony for participants at grantee agency New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC). NKCDC addresses social determinants of health by preserving affordable housing and hiring community health workers who are residents of the HEZ to use trauma-informed training to assist clients and connect them to resources for health care, food resources, credit and budget counseling, and other social service resources. Sixteen enrollees at the NKCDC completed training on helping people in the New Kensington area with chronic disease management, safety, health insurance basics, and home visiting.

The other HEZ projects include:

·   Education Plus Health, which has engaged with more than 370 students in identifying health issues like asthma, obesity, diabetes, and access to insurance. Its focus is improving child and adolescent health outcomes through the School-Based Health Center Community Health Worker project, which integrates community health workers into each school-based health center team to screen students and identify health concerns.

·   Bebashi- Transition to Hope has served more than 3,600 per year at its food pantry and, with their use of peer support workers, has seen an 80% increase in engagement.

Bebashi focuses on mitigating the symptoms of multigenerational poverty by addressing food insecurity through physically expanding Second Helping, an emergency food pantry, establishing food pantries in schools, and working to increase access to quality health care and assistance programs through one-to-one resource navigation with direct linkages and referrals for HEZ residents.

·   Project HOME has led more than 30 patients through 10 week programs designed to address and manage diabetes. Their Healthy Communities Program, which trains peer community health workers to recruit participants from the HEZ with diabetes or pre-diabetes, uses an evidence-based healthy lifestyle program focusing on nutrition, physical activity, healthy food access, and motivational supports and connects participants to integrated health and wellness resources.

·   Health Federation of Philadelphia has extended its health screening and social service referral program to help providers in the HEZ identify and address social determinants of health. The Health Federation trains community health workers and peer support workers to build sustainable capacity and promote organizational development. They focus on addressing diabetes and prediabetes through the implementation of a diabetes prevention program while also addressing behavioral and mental health and substance use disorders.

Since the creation of the HEZ in 2016, DHS and grantees have sought to improve social indicators of health for residents of North Philadelphia. DHS has previously funded trauma-informed practices among teachers, staff, parents, and community members and has increased funding for lead remediation projects in schools within the HEZ. In October DHS announced more than $5 million in funding for additional services, including support for SNAP 50/50 programs aimed at moving people out of poverty, home visiting services, and services related to eviction prevention and affordable housing.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Erin James, 717-425-7606

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