By: Chris Corcoran
We are dedicated to improving the lives of young children and their families by making homes lead-safe, healthy and more energy efficient. Research shows that addressing all of those areas can have a profound impact on health outcomes, as opposed to focusing on any one particular area in isolation.
At Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program (Healthy Homes), we are proud to have served select Connecticut communities for 15 years and we are excited to soon be expanding statewide under a new grant from the Connecticut Department of Housing.
Looking back, we have accomplished so much.
In 2003, Healthy Homes received its first grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make homes lead-safe. At the time, we were known as the Lead Action for Medicaid Primary Prevention (LAMPP) Project.
In 2004, we worked with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to expand coverage of the Hartford Regional Lead Treatment Center to include children with lead levels above five micrograms per deciliter. The previous level of response was for children whose blood lead levels were above 10 micrograms per deciliter. This change allowed staff at the Center to treat a much larger cohort of kids, which is especially important since levels as low as 3 micrograms per deciliter have been proven to impact academic performance on standardized tests.
In 2006, the LAMPP Project funded the development of Lead Education for Educators, which is a training module designed to help teachers and education professionals learn about the signs and symptoms of children with lead poisoning.
In 2007, the LAMPP Project joined with the Department of Public Health to win passage of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, which mandates that pediatricians screen all Connecticut children twice between the ages of 9 and 36 months for elevated blood lead levels.
In 2008, the LAMPP Project received an $875,000 Healthy Homes Grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to remove health and safety hazards in low-income homes over the 3-year period. As a result of this grant, we created our first comprehensive healthy homes assessment tool in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. We assessed hazards in more than 400 homes; remediated health and safety hazards in 310 homes; implemented integrated pest management services in 35 units; and removed structural health and safety hazards in 69 homes in two Hartford neighborhoods. We also educated neighborhood residents about maintaining healthy homes and built the capacity for community organizations to offer programming on maintaining healthy homes.
In 2009, the LAMPP Project, in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Education, funded a study of the effects of blood lead levels on state standardized test scores. Researchers at Duke University’s Children’s Environmental Health Initiative identified an impact on math and reading scores for children with blood lead levels as low as 3 micrograms per deciliter.
In 2010, the LAMPP Project collaborated with United Illuminating to win a $2 million innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Under the grant, we launched the Connecticut Efficient and Healthy Homes Initiative, which debuted the concept of combining efforts to make homes lead-safe and healthy with the weatherization efforts, which is an evidence-based model that is thriving today.
In 2011, the LAMPP Project secured funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH), to inspect more than 400 housing units for the 29 health hazards detailed in the HUD Healthy Homes Rating System. In addition, we used additional data from DPH to develop a streamlined tool for home assessment.
In 2012, the LAMPP Project funded the development of a healthy homes training for 10 Head Start programs in Bridgeport, in collaboration with the Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust. The training module was designed to help Head Start workers identify home health hazards during home visits and refer families to services to remediate those hazards.
In 2014, the LAMPP Project was invited to present Pediatric Grand Rounds at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. During the presentation, we introduced the audience of pediatricians, specialists and medical staff to the concept of “Housing as a Platform for Health”. We placed great emphasis on describing the various health and safety hazards most commonly found in the homes of the patients served by Connecticut Children’s, as well as the resources available to remediate those hazards.
In 2015, the LAMPP Project rebranded to Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program (Healthy Homes), which is what we are currently known as. The rebranding reflected our ongoing efforts to address safety hazards and energy efficiency rather than solely focusing on lead hazards.
In 2016, we collaborated with the City of New Britain and the Naugatuck Valley Health District to win two lead hazard control grants from HUD, which expanded the footprint of our program into six new communities.
In 2017, Healthy Homes reached a huge milestone of making 2,500 housing units in Connecticut lead-safe and healthy.
While we have accomplished so much in the past, we are focused on the future. We look forward to expanding statewide under a new grant from the Connecticut Department of Housing. Through our work over the past 15 years, we have shown that healthy housing is critical to ensuring children have an opportunity to thrive and succeed.
Chris Corcoran is the program manager from Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program.