Long Beach, CA – Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services' Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Division has secured funding from two grants totaling $100,000 from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The grants seek to address the needs of people with disabilities and others with access or functional needs by integrating inclusive considerations into public health emergency preparedness planning through hiring specialized staff to collaborate with partners and conduct outreach.
“We are thrilled to have the ability to expand inclusion and access in our community," said Mayor Rex Richardson. "These grants will allow for additional resources for the city of Long Beach to better serve those with access and functional needs in future preparation and response of emergency activations.”
Accessibility advocates will bring vital expertise to public health services, while collaborations with community-based organizations, such as Able ARTS Work, will spread awareness about inclusivity within emergency planning through zine workshops that gather people together to create and share publications regarding health-related topics from the point of view of people with disabilities. This initiative will ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, will have equal access to emergency information, resources and services.
As part of the goals and objectives laid within the grants, NACCHO funding will be prioritized around:
Two Accessibility Advocates will be hired for temporary positions that will offer exposure to the public health emergency management field and provide professional guidance and career development. The positions will support the current Access and Functional Needs Specialist to build capacity around important public health efforts. Duties will include providing input when planning, operating and accommodating those with disabilities, as well as supporting access and functional needs at shelters, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites and emergency activations.
A grant to Able ARTS Work to host a series of zine-making workshops that aim to encourage community engagement and collect experiences on city emergency response efforts, such as COVID-19. A zine is a noncommercial, often homemade or online publication that focuses on a specific theme or subject and that when shared, can educate and inspire change. The workshops will provide family members and caregivers of people with disabilities the opportunity to share their own experiences through a short survey. The zines and survey data will support the Health Department in better understanding how to integrate the needs of people with disabilities into their work to improve equitable reach of resources.
The Access and Functional Needs Specialist, Accessibility Advocates, and supporting public health emergency staff will help conduct outreach to the local disability community and facilitate relationship building to convene local partners to establish a Disabilities, Access, and Functional Needs (DAFN) workgroup. The workgroup will include local subject matter experts who will apply their knowledge on DAFN and ensure the considerations of our whole community are met by reviewing public health processes and plans. Organizing a DAFN workgroup will guarantee that inclusive considerations will be incorporated into the City of Long Beach’s Public Health emergency preparedness planning and response process to better acknowledge the needs of the DAFN community.
“Disabilities can be both highly visible and invisible, and it’s important that we identify ways that can help us improve service to the community,” said Health and Human Services Department Director Kelly Colopy. “The Health Department looks forward to the opportunity that these grants present in addressing access and functional needs across health services.”
The most recent census found that 50,214 Long Beach residents self-identified as living with a disability. People with disabilities and their families are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. The programs supported by this funding will be key in addressing these gaps.