First Year Cleveland

First Year Cleveland

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Biomedical Research Building
11000 Cedar Avenue - 4th Floor Cleveland, OH 44106

Phone 216-368-4837
Home Solutions Reducing Racial Disparities Overview

Reducing Racial Disparities

In 2018, African American babies made up 38 percent of births in Cuyahoga County and 67 percent of infant deaths.


Disparity Illustration

Reducing these racial inequities is a primary focus of our work at First Year Cleveland (FYC). We are supporting interventions that look at the role structural and institutional racism plays in infant deaths, as well as expanding the CenteringPregnancy model; increasing home visiting, perinatal and birth doula services, fatherhood and faith-based services; exploring the parents’ environment, access to safe and affordable housing and transportation, nutritional deficiencies and long-term stress associated with being a person of color living in a society that still bears evidence of 400 years of prejudice.

Our goal is to execute solutions to reduce all infant deaths and have no racial inequities in infant deaths by the end of 2025. Preliminary 2018 county data shows the inequity rate between black and white infant deaths is now 4.0, compared to the 2017 rate of 7.2, indicating that our local programs and interventions are beginning to show progress. However, this still means that for every white baby that died before his or her first birthday, four African American babies from all socioeconomic levels didn't live through their first year.

(The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of babies under one year of age. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a community, because factors affecting the health of a population can also impact the mortality rate of infants. The infant mortality inequity rate is the ratio of the black infant mortality rate compared to the white infant mortality rate. For example, a value of 4.0 means that the black babies are dying at four times the rate of white babies.) 


Coordinated Partner Efforts

Reducing racial disparities requires coordinated efforts from First Year Cleveland plus 100 community partners. Our ongoing work and data collected from our action teams is being used to:

  • Advance public policy on a national, state and local level
  • Secure funding for our FYC partners
  • Ensure FYC partners use shared measurement practices
  • Allocate Ohio Department of Medicaid resources for home visiting, CenteringPregnancy and other community efforts
  • Develop institutional policies to address structural racism
  • Identify funding research efforts to better understand the effects of racism on infant deaths
  • Establish a numerical goal for reducing the number of African American babies dying in Cuyahoga County before their first birthday
  • Align access in housing systems and health care systems

Supportive Programs for Families

We are also working to create awareness of the issues surrounding infant deaths in Cuyahoga County and provide important support to families through education and training. We will do this through a variety of efforts including:

  • Building public will. It is important that the public understands the problem, why change is needed and our proposed solutions.
  • Conducting a public awareness campaign surrounding infant mortality and related racial disparities.
  • In addition to addressing racism by leading bias testing and training for all systems that interact with expectant parents, we will offer stress-related interventions to African American pregnant mothers in both individual and group settings through the work of our FYC Action Teams 2 and 3.
  • Working with fathers to educate them on their role in reducing infant deaths.
  • Training residents and community leaders to engage and educate other community members.

Ways to help reduce racial disparities

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