By: KDKA-TV’s Bryant Reed
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services released its racial equity report on Thursday.READ MORE: Heinz Field COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Adding More Appointments
It’s the first-of-its-kind and addresses inequity and racism across the state and its programs. The department starting by looking internally at its employees, hoping to increase diversity in upper-level management in the coming years.
“It’s really easy to say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ to say we’re going to focus on inequity,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “But it’s a whole other issue to actually do it.”
Health equity, economic justice and early education are just a few issues that the department hopes to push forward. In Pennsylvania, Black women are three times more likely to die at childbirth than white women.
The poverty rate of Black Pennsylvanians compared to whites is two-and-a-half times higher, and more than 50 percent of children enrolled in low-income childcare programs are Black.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Department Of Health Says Flu Activity Across State Remains Low
“If we’re going to make progress in this area, we really have to focus attention on it and we can’t stop focusing on it,” said Miller. “These disparities are enormous and it’s going to take a lot of work to really address them.”
But Miller says help is on the way.
“We have the opportunity through our programs, I believe, to try and change lives and to help people find a way out of poverty by helping them increase their skills, by providing training opportunities, by investing in them, and we weren’t doing that,” said Miller. “We’ve spent three years really revamping those programs.”MORE NEWS: Wayward Cat Wanders From New Jersey To Pittsburgh While Missing For Over 4 Years
Miller admits the work that’s being done won’t change and improve a community overnight and could take some time. But she says as long as the Wolf administration is in place, the closing of any racial disparity and inequity gap is a top focus.