About Us

Mission

Our mission at the Child Health Equity Center is to advance child health equity locally, nationally, and globally — particularly for children who have been most disadvantaged by poverty and systemic racism — through novel and groundbreaking research and programs that transform healthcare systems and public policy.

Vision

The long-term vision of the Child Health Equity Center is to help heal children, families, and communities, particularly the most vulnerable, by addressing adverse social determinants of health including poverty and racism, linking communities and healthcare delivery systems, and creating lasting research and policy solutions.

Child Health Inequities Impact Growth and Development

Health inequities are pervasive in the U.S. and around the globe. These inequities begin in childhood, persist throughout adulthood, and are often intergenerational.

Macro-level social, economic, and political factors create health inequities. These inequities take a human toll, characterized by poverty, adversity, and distress. The extraordinary burdens shouldered by lower-income and Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) families shape and influence health behavior, stress, and social dynamics, contributing to disparate health outcomes and disease burden.

These factors directly create inequitable living environments, environmental exposures, and social circumstances, which are the social determinants of health.

Life course research demonstrates that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of adverse social determinants of health.

Group of diverse children huddled around
Two boys laying on their stomachs next to each other looking at a book together

Inequities Begin in Childhood

To Create Radical Change – We Must End Them in Childhood

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently identified poverty and racism as two prevalent and pervasive adverse social determinants of health that urgently need to be addressed through clinical innovation, community partnerships, and health and social policies.

Children are the poorest segment of the US population, with 2 in 5 children living in impoverished conditions.

Since 2020, for the first time in history, the majority of children in the U.S. are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).

Low-income BIPOC children represent 70% of all low-income children and 26% of children overall in the U.S. Throughout their lives, they face the catastrophic consequences of poverty and structural and interpersonal racism.

Childhood is the only thing that universally defines us. We may not all make it to adulthood but we were all once children.

Childhood should be a time of growth and opportunity, but too often, children from marginalized communities disproportionately experience adverse social determinants of health. Together, we must alleviate that burden by addressing inequities where they begin — in childhood.

Research and Programs

To improve the health of our children today and for future generations, we are designing sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing families. From increasing access to healthy food options to addressing disparities in autism diagnosis and treatment, we are working to ensure that all children have an opportunity to reach their full potential.

Our Impact

Our WE CARE social determinants of health screening tool has been implemented nationwide and has helped identify the health-related social needs of thousands of children and families.
Map of Central Mass, Highlighting Worcester County, Child Health Equity Center's Service Area

Centering the Margin in Central Massachusetts

The Child Health Equity Center is located in Worcester, Massachusetts, the second-largest city in New England. We intentionally chose a home base for our work in a culturally and linguistically diverse city facing many of the same difficulties as other cities across the nation. Poverty, racism, and generational trauma have a profound effect on the residents of Worcester. We work side by side with Worcester’s community leaders and organizations to create sustainable, replicable patient- and family-centered solutions to the health inequities facing our community, so that we may better help the United States and the world.

Children in Worcester are deeply impacted by adverse social determinants of health, including:

  • Racism. Discrimination and racism represent significant barriers to health for children in the community.
  • Poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated and highlighted existing societal inequities, demonstrating that economic factors are intrinsically linked to health status and well-being. Intergenerational poverty remains one of the most pressing challenges facing families in Worcester.

  • Housing Insecurity. Access to safe, affordable housing is vital to maintaining good health. Worcester has one of the highest rates of student homelessness in New England. Worcester families also struggle with poor housing conditions, which contribute to asthma hospitalizations.
  • Limited Educational Attainment. Higher education is associated with improved health outcomes. Unfortunately, access to higher education is extremely limited for Worcester residents with less than 40% of residents reporting no college experience and 6.5% of adults over 25 reporting less than a 9th-grade education.

The incidence of community violence and child maltreatment in the city contribute to generational trauma. According to recent data on child maltreatment, Worcester has one of the highest rates of child victimization in Massachusetts.

Maia Archer, BA (She/Her)

Career path intern

Maia Archer graduated from Boston University with her B.A. in Biology, double minoring in French and Public Health. She is an intern for the Child Health Equity Center primarily assisting with the Pilot Lyft Transportation Program and Food is Medicine Program. Maia will be continuing her academic journey at George Washington University to receive her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion.

Child Health Equity Center

Maia Archer, BA (She/Her)

Career PATH Intern

Maia Archer graduated from Boston University with her B.A. in Biology, double minoring in French and Public Health. She is an intern for the Child Health Equity Center primarily assisting with the Pilot Lyft Transportation Program and Food is Medicine Program. Maia will be continuing her academic journey at George Washington University to receive her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion.

Monick Powell, C-TAGME (She/Her)

Fellowship Coordinator

Monick Powell, C-TAGME, is the Pediatric Training Program Coordinator at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. She acts as Coordinator for the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. She was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York, and has been working at UMass since 2004 in various positions in Pediatrics. Ms. Powell established and leads the institutional Training Programs Coordinator Advisory Committee.

Icon of person

Monick Powell, C-TAGME (She/Her)

Fellowship Coordinator

Monick Powell, C-TAGME, is the Pediatric Training Program Coordinator at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. She acts as Coordinator for the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. She was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York, and has been working at UMass since 2004 in various positions in Pediatrics. Ms. Powell established and leads the institutional Training Programs Coordinator Advisory Committee.

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Advisor

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH, joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in June 2016. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rhein is board-certified in both pediatric pulmonology and neonatology. He is a health services researcher with a focus on respiratory outcomes of neonatal lung disease and is a national expert on lung disease of prematurity. Dr. Rhein runs a research program focused on optimizing respiratory status in infants with severe lung diseases, particularly infants who are technology- or oxygen-dependent. He has pioneered several protocols for safe outpatient oxygen weaning, which allows infants to be discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit much earlier. Through clinical trials and analysis of physiological data, Dr. Rhein hopes to develop new strategies to prevent and treat neonatal and pediatric lung disease.

Photo of Dr. Larry Rhein, MD, MPH

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Advisor

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH, joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in June 2016. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rhein is board-certified in both pediatric pulmonology and neonatology. He is a health services researcher with a focus on respiratory outcomes of neonatal lung disease and is a national expert on lung disease of prematurity. Dr. Rhein runs a research program focused on optimizing respiratory status in infants with severe lung diseases, particularly infants who are technology- or oxygen-dependent. He has pioneered several protocols for safe outpatient oxygen weaning, which allows infants to be discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit much earlier. Through clinical trials and analysis of physiological data, Dr. Rhein hopes to develop new strategies to prevent and treat neonatal and pediatric lung disease.

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH, is a pediatric pulmonologist and clinician-scientist who studies sustainable community-based interventions that seek to improve asthma health for children. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Trivedi is Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded clinical trial of Asthma Link, a clinic-school partnership that delivers school-supervised asthma therapy to children with poorly controlled asthma in 52 schools across Massachusetts. 

 

With a focus on sustainable, pragmatic interventions, she has developed a novel methodology for stakeholder engagement, grounded in implementation science, that elicits input from children, parents, pediatricians, community and systems-level stakeholders (payors, legislators, and public health officials) in order to adapt evidence-based interventions to real-world settings. The ultimate goal of this methodology and her work is to develop interventions that produce positive public and population health impact, particularly for historically marginalized populations.

Photo of Dr. Michelle Trivedi

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH, is a pediatric pulmonologist and clinician-scientist who studies sustainable community-based interventions that seek to improve asthma health for children. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Trivedi is Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded clinical trial of Asthma Link, a clinic-school partnership that delivers school-supervised asthma therapy to children with poorly controlled asthma in 52 schools across Massachusetts. 

With a focus on sustainable, pragmatic interventions, she has developed a novel methodology for stakeholder engagement, grounded in implementation science, that elicits input from children, parents, pediatricians, community and systems-level stakeholders (payors, legislators, and public health officials) in order to adapt evidence-based interventions to real-world settings. The ultimate goal of this methodology and her work is to develop interventions that produce positive public and population health impact, particularly for historically marginalized populations.

Meg Parker, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Meg Parker, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Neonatology at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Parker is a neonatal health services researcher and holds several federal and foundation grants in the area of social disparities in preterm birth outcomes; she has a particular interest in safe sleep and breastfeeding. 

Dr. Parker is also an expert in multi-site implementation science and is the Co-Chair of the Neonatal Quality Improvement Collaborative of Massachusetts and an Improvement Advisor from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. She has led multi-site NICU quality improvements focused on breastfeeding and family engagement. Dr. Parker applies a health equity lens to her local and multisite quality improvement projects.

Photo of Dr. Meg Parker

Meg Parker, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Meg Parker, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Neonatology at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Parker is a neonatal health services researcher and holds several federal and foundation grants in the area of social disparities in preterm birth outcomes; she has a particular interest in safe sleep and breastfeeding. 

Dr. Parker is also an expert in multi-site implementation science and is the Co-Chair of the Neonatal Quality Improvement Collaborative of Massachusetts and an Improvement Advisor from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. She has led multi-site NICU quality improvements focused on breastfeeding and family engagement. Dr. Parker applies a health equity lens to her local and multisite quality improvement projects.

Heather Forkey, MD (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Heather Forkey, MD, is a pediatrician and a Professor of Pediatrics at the UMass Chan Medical School. She also directs the Child Protection Program and Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES) of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Forkey is particularly interested in meeting the health and developmental needs of children who have experienced trauma. In collaboration with colleagues, she has trained thousands of professionals and parents about the impacts of childhood trauma and has developed innovative resources to make that work easier. She published the first textbook on trauma-informed care for pediatrics and presents nationally and internationally on the topic. Dr. Forkey also serves in leadership roles for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Photo of Dr. Heather Forkey

Heather Forkey, MD (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Heather Forkey, MD, is a pediatrician and a Professor of Pediatrics at the UMass Chan Medical School. She also directs the Child Protection Program and Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES) of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Forkey is particularly interested in meeting the health and developmental needs of children who have experienced trauma. In collaboration with colleagues, she has trained thousands of professionals and parents about the impacts of childhood trauma and has developed innovative resources to make that work easier. She published the first textbook on trauma-informed care for pediatrics and presents nationally and internationally on the topic. Dr. Forkey also serves in leadership roles for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc, is an Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School in the Division of General Pediatrics and a faculty member in the Child Health Equity Center with a focus on global health. Dr. Fahey leads an institutional collaboration with an academic tertiary care center in rural western India focused on research capacity building and community engagement to identify and address barriers to care and health inequities in rural community settings. Through this collaboration, she has led the implementation of several research projects in India; recent projects have focused on maternal-child health and social determinants of health. In addition, she is passionate about exploring how digital technologies can be used to reduce health inequities. Her current research focuses on developing ways to promote the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care among mother-neonate dyads across a variety of settings.

Photo of Dr. Nisha Fahey

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc, is an Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School in the Division of General Pediatrics and a faculty member in the Child Health Equity Center with a focus on global health. Dr. Fahey leads an institutional collaboration with an academic tertiary care center in rural western India focused on research capacity building and community engagement to identify and address barriers to care and health inequities in rural community settings. Through this collaboration, she has led the implementation of several research projects in India; recent projects have focused on maternal-child health and social determinants of health. In addition, she is passionate about exploring how digital technologies can be used to reduce health inequities. Her current research focuses on developing ways to promote the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care among mother-neonate dyads across a variety of settings.

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and implementation scientist who studies early diagnosis and treatment for autistic children and children with other developmental, behavioral, and/or mental health disorders. She is Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Pediatrics and Associate Director for Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Broder-Fingert is Principal Investigator on multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of autism interventions. Dr. Broder-Fingert has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as an editor for the Autism and Hospital Pediatrics journals.

Photo of Dr. Sarabeth Broder-Fingert

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and implementation scientist who studies early diagnosis and treatment for autistic children and children with other developmental, behavioral, and/or mental health disorders. She is Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Pediatrics and Associate Director for Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Broder-Fingert is Principal Investigator on multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of autism interventions. Dr. Broder-Fingert has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as an editor for the Autism and Hospital Pediatrics journals.

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP, is an experienced development strategist and child health equity advocate with over a decade of experience designing and implementing initiatives to address adverse social determinants of health. Ms. LeBlanc subscribes to the philosophy “nothing about us without us.” To this end, she has extensive experience fostering bidirectional community partnerships and coalition building. She also has a strong track record of building sustainable centers of excellence in safety-net healthcare systems. 

As a disability and chronic disease self-advocate, Ms. LeBlanc has spent years redefining what it means to promote inclusivity and belonging and is dedicated to continually raising the bar for herself and her colleagues. Ms. LeBlanc completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and completed her master’s in communications at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Photo of Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP, is an experienced development strategist and child health equity advocate with over a decade of experience designing and implementing initiatives to address adverse social determinants of health. Ms. LeBlanc subscribes to the philosophy “nothing about us without us.” To this end, she has extensive experience fostering bidirectional community partnerships and coalition building. She also has a strong track record of building sustainable centers of excellence in safety-net healthcare systems. 

As a disability and chronic disease self-advocate, Ms. LeBlanc has spent years redefining what it means to promote inclusivity and belonging and is dedicated to continually raising the bar for herself and her colleagues. Ms. LeBlanc completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and completed her master’s in communications at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Child Health Equity Center FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH, is a general pediatrician and clinician-scientist who studies addressing unmet social needs through family-centered healthcare system-based interventions. He is the Founding Director of the Child Health Equity Center and the Founding Program Director of the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. He is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of Health Equity at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Garg is also Associate Chief Quality Officer for Health Equity for UMass Memorial Health

Since 2009, Dr. Garg has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has received extramural funding from private foundations. He is Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple NIH-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of interventions addressing social needs. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. He was recently the Chair of the Health Care Delivery Committee for the Academic Pediatric Association.

Photo of Dr. Arvin Garg

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Child Health Equity Center FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH, is a general pediatrician and clinician-scientist who studies addressing unmet social needs through family-centered healthcare system-based interventions. He is the Founding Director of the Child Health Equity Center and the Founding Program Director of the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. He is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of Health Equity at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Garg is also Associate Chief Quality Officer for Health Equity for UMass Memorial Health. 

Since 2009, Dr. Garg has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has received extramural funding from private foundations. He is Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple NIH-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of interventions addressing social needs. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. He was recently the Chair of the Health Care Delivery Committee for the Academic Pediatric Association.