Today's guest blogger is Surili Patel, deputy director of the Center for Public Health Policy at APHA.

Surili Patel is deputy director of the Center for Public Health Policy at APHA.The need for a coordinated, efficient and comprehensive environmental health system to protect children in America is vital and urgent. Restructuring, budget cuts and recent and recurring environmental health challenges have raised concerns about the status of national, state and local environmental public health systems.

In response to member outcry over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, APHA set out to study the situation nationally. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we launched the project that has culminated in the report, “Protecting our Children: A National Review of Environmental Health Services,” to be released at the end of this month.

APHA collected feedback from subject matter experts to identify 210 environmental health services that should be systematically provided to children across the country. Because consumers are most likely to look for health information online, APHA conducted a national scan of state departments of health and environmental quality websites to see if these services are available.

In addition to the national scan, APHA visited two communities to discuss their understanding of and experiences with environmental health services. Community members in Flint, Michigan, and Washington, D.C., spoke openly about how their children have benefited from services offered, and also about the barriers they’ve faced in trying to obtain those services.

APHA also spoke with local service providers in these communities to learn about their efforts to deliver environmental health services to children and families. Together, all components of the study helped shape recommendations for local, state and federal health departments to improve the sharing of environmental health information and services.

Please join us on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 1-2:15 pm EST for a webinar that will examine the importance of environmental health services and the recommendations expressed in “Protecting the Health of Children: A National Snapshot of Environmental Health Services.” The event will feature local perspectives from community leaders in Flint, Michigan.

By ensuring children’s environmental health services are available to all, we are collectively creating an equitable system for our children and for generations to come. We have a long way to go. This effort is one of many steps that we can take to protect our children and their future.

For more information, please see our Children’s Environmental Health page.