Tagged: United States

  • The Green Corrections Challenge

    The primary goal of corrections in the United States is keeping the community — everyone from offenders to those who work within prisons and jails — safe. Policies and strategies within the corrections community, however, increasingly emphasize cost containment and environmental sustainability. Addressing these two goals in tandem has proven to be a great opportunity for correctional leaders and their partners.

    FHI 360’s Green Corrections project contributes to the goal of making the corrections system more environmentally sustainable by facilitating the sharing of effective practices and lessons learned.

    A recent competition, the Green Corrections Challenge, highlighted exciting and innovative green practices in local, state and federal correctional facilities and reentry programs in the United States. The competition, part of the Green Corrections project, showed how dedicated corrections professionals are minimizing negative environmental impacts, saving taxpayer dollars and preparing offenders for green jobs.

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  • AIDSWatch 2014: Science and advocacy coming together

    What is AIDSWatch?

    AIDSWatch is an annual event in DC. Hundreds of people come from across the United States to educate members of Congress and other senior government officials about the impact of HIV in their communities and lives and to discuss strategies for ending the HIV epidemic. Public health officials, policy advocates, leaders from community-based organizations and people living with HIV seek to gain vital support for lifesaving programs and services.

    The event includes a briefing on key policy issues and HIV-related programs, scheduled visits with members of Congress and the Positive Leadership awards reception. Participants learn about the budget and appropriations process, critical programs serving people with HIV — such as the Ryan White CARE Act and the Affordable Care Act — and effective HIV prevention strategies. The event includes a “telling your story” session to help participants communicate their experience to policymakers and networking sessions to share resources.

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  • Ending AIDS Among Latino Americans: ¡Sí se puede!

    The past three years have seen tremendous breakthroughs in HIV prevention research. Since 2009, we have seen the first vaccine to show effectiveness, a microbicide that was found to be modestly efficacious and two studies demonstrating that an HIV medication could be used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis or could reduce new infections by treating those with HIV earlier. These advances have led many to herald a new era in our 30-year campaign to end the epidemic.

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  • The Co-founder of National HIV Testing Day asks, “Why do we need a special day for HIV testing?"

    Today, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day in the United States. It is an observance that is now recognized in many countries around the globe. Why set aside a special day for something that should be a routine part of medical care for people at risk of getting HIV? Because ending the stigma of HIV and creating multiple opportunities for testing is an urgent need in our effort to create an AIDS-free generation.

    In the late 1980s, many of my friends had died of AIDS or were very sick. The decision to get an HIV test was not an easy one. But in 1986, I went for an HIV test at Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC, because it was important for me to know my HIV status. This was at a time when there were few treatment options, and the testing process involved a long and scary wait for your results. In 1995, I worked with my colleagues at the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and we created National HIV Testing Day. This effort was designed to help reduce the stigma of HIV testing and to normalize it as a component of regular health screening. At that time, there was a lot of fear about testing. Because there were few treatments, many thought it unnecessary. People who were known to be HIV positive were subjected to being fired from their jobs or becoming victims of violence. At NAPWA, we believed it was important to confront this situation by encouraging people to “Take the Test, Take Control.” We also believed that the more of us who stood up, the less the world would be able to ignore the epidemic.

    Last week, members of parliament in Zimbabwe provided the type of leadership needed in the United States and worldwide to end the stigma of HIV testing. Over 47 legislators, and 60 of their staff, underwent voluntary counseling and public testing for HIV in an effort to encourage other citizens to follow suit. As a result, Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against AIDS, told SW Radio Africa that, “181 people went through the doors for testing, and 23 men underwent circumcision (proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection).”

    Today, there are dozens of treatments available to keep people with HIV healthy. There is excitement also about the progress we are making in biomedical prevention interventions such as circumcision, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and treatment as prevention. HIV testing itself is easier and quicker with results available in 20 minutes. The promise of these new opportunities begins with everyone knowing their HIV status without fear of discrimination, stigma or violence.

    To learn more about National HIV Testing Day, visit the website here.

  • U.S. Education Blog Series: Prepared to Succeed


  • Las Manos de Apá: The Hands of My Father

    What is Las Manos de Apá?

    Las Manos de Apá was a program FHI 360’s early childhood experts created and piloted with a grant from the Office of Head Start. We created a curriculum and materials that childcare workers and administrators in Head Start and Early Head Start programs could use to help the Latino fathers in their schools improve their parenting skills and better understand the early literacy needs of their children. The materials were used in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs in Michigan and New York.

    Why did this program target fathers specifically?

    We wanted to reach out to fathers because research shows that fathers are generally less involved in the Early Head Start and Head Start programs than other family members. In the migrant and seasonal programs, a lot of the dads are farm workers, and many are illiterate. We found that many dads who participated in Las Manos de Apa had very negative memories of their school experiences and didn’t understand the different stages of child development or how to engage with their children in early learning activities.

    It was very important to us that we engaged the fathers where they felt most comfortable. Many of the fathers fondly remembered the oral storytelling traditions in their culture, and many were exposed to these traditions in their early childhood years. So we used oral storytelling in the lessons to gain the fathers’ trust, build their confidence and engage with them in a way that would be comfortable and familiar. We were simultaneously building their parenting skills and teaching them how to relate to a three- or four-year-old child.

    What kinds of activities did the fathers do in the program?

    In one activity, the fathers learned how to make a book with their children. Even if the father could not read, he could encourage his child to draw pictures and teach his child to look at the book from the left to the right. Another activity the fathers did together was make bookshelves for their children. Some of the dads went all out and engraved their children’s names in the bookcases or added intricate details. That was a culminating activity for them. We also had speakers come to the fathers’ groups to talk about different issues. In another activity, the fathers gave presentations to the mothers.

    There was an opportunity over the three-year period for the program to have different mix of families. There were always new families added to the mix. Migrant and seasonal programs open and close according to the growing season of the area. But we tried to engage them all in social activities as well as the lessons. Things like soccer games and cookouts fostered the community the participants built.

    What did the fathers see as some of the outcomes of their participation in the program?

    Many fathers told us that initially they weren’t sure how to engage with their children, and they lacked confidence about how to interact with their young children. They said that because of the skills they learned in the program, they now talk with their children more and participate in more activities with their pre-schoolers. Overall, they said that they are spending much more quality time with their families. Many of them didn’t have father figures in their households growing up, so they didn’t have role models to follow. Now, they want to be role models for their children. They told us that this project gave them a lot of the tools to do that.

    For more information about the education work FHI 360 does in the United States visit our website.

  • Last year 2,614 people contacted FHI 360’s National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities with urgent questions. What’s an IEP? What does it mean when a teacher says my child has AD/HD? Where can I find other parents of deaf children?

    And those were only the calls and emails. Thousands of others came to the center’s website and scoured its online database.

    The center, which goes by the acronym NICHCY (pronounced NEE-chee), now has a new way to get information to parents, teachers, and others whose lives are touched by children with disabilities: a smartphone app. With the touch of a finger on an iPhone or a Droid, users can now literally tap into NICHCY’s extensive database of hundreds state organizations and local parent centers.

    “Some of the information requests are our job to answer. But a lot are really for other organizations,” explains Elaine Mulligan, NICHCY’s project director. “We’re referring parents out to local centers all the time. DisAbility Connect means they can now refer themselves.”

    Amar Trivedi developed DisAbility Connect. He says NICHCY’s database translates perfectly into a mobile app because users need site-specific information and can be immediately connected to the organization’s email address, phone number, and website. And the best part, Trivedi says, is that when NICHCY updates its information online, the app will also automatically update — meaning that no parent rushing to an IEP meeting will be left with too little information too late.

    For more information about NICHCY, visit their website here.