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Racial Equity

The Maternal and Child Health Section is committed to advancing racial equity and we adopted a policy on racial equity in 2017. Both our commitment statement and policy can be found below.

Commitment and Vision for Racial Equity

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section commits to working against racism.

We acknowledge that communities of color and tribal and indigenous communities in Oregon experience inequities and disparities in health due to racism, oppression and historical trauma.

We envision an Oregon where racial inequities and disparities are eliminated and communities of color experience lifelong health and wellbeing.

We will create policies, programs and procedures to address structural and institutional racism, and hold ourselves accountable to them.

We will work with partner organizations and community members, rooted in our commitment to racial equity. We will make adequate resource allocation and invest in developing meaningful partnerships with diverse community stakeholders.

We will adopt goals and anti-racist strategies to guide us in making this vision a reality.

MCH Racial Equity Policy

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section will maintain a welcoming and trauma-informed work environment that reflects and supports the racial and ethnic diversity of our community members and partners. The section promotes and encourages culturally responsive and accessible communication methods. The section will recruit, employ, support and retain a racially diverse and culturally responsive staff and leadership. Full text of MCH Racial Equity Policy

MCH Racial Equity Assessment and Action Plan

Organizational Assessments & Frameworks

In 2016/2017, Maternal and Child Health did an assessment and developed an action plan based on the outcomes. We have prioritized the following domains to begin our in-depth work:

  1. Organizational commitment, leadership and governance and
    Racial equity policies and implementation practices*
  2. Organizational culture, climate and communications
  3. Workforce composition and quality

Organization assessment tools: 

Coalition of Communities of Color: Tool for Organizational Assessment Related to Racial Equity  

Our results: MCH Racial Equity Assessment Report

1. Organizational commitment, leadership and governance and 
    Racial equity policies and implementation practices*

    See statement and policy at the top of the page. 

2. Organizational culture, climate and communications

MCH is working to create a trauma-informed workplace using a racial equity focus. One component of this is the implementation of trauma-informed meeting guidelines, including the following opening statement for meetings:

MCH works to create courageous spaces to collaborate and share ideas respectfully. We acknowledge that a variety of backgrounds, skillsets, communication styles, and beliefs are present. While we acknowledge that there is a power differential among us all attendees bring equally valuable opinions. Each participant is encouraged to provide leadership. (Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section Trauma Informed Meeting Guidelines)

3. Workforce Equity, Training and Development

The Maternal and Child Health Section is committed to improving our internal processes for writing position decriptions, recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce. We will employ the best practices of transparency, racial equity, and trauma-informed principles throughout our hiring processes.

MCH will dedicate time and resources for staff training focused on racial equity and cultural responsiveness. For example: employees will identify equity related activities to include in their employee development plans. All employees will be encouraged to take part in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). The IDI is a cross-culturally valid, reliable and generalizable measure of intercultural competence along the validated intercultural development continuum. Results are offered for individuals and groups to identify gaps in our responsiveness to create meaningful opportunities for employee development.

*Domain 1 includes two separate domains from the Assessment. 
We combined them into one area that focuses on our institutional practices.

Understanding Racism

Interpersonal: This refers to prejudices and discriminatory behaviors where one group makes assumptions about the abilities, motives, and intents of other groups based on race. This set of prejudices leads to cruel intentional or unintentional actions towards other groups.

Internalized: In a society in which all aspects of identity and experience are racialized, and one group is politically, socially and economically dominant, members of stigmatized groups, who are bombarded with negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic worth, may internalize those negative messages. It holds people back from achieving their fullest potential. It also obscures the structural and systemic nature of racial oppression, and reinforces those systems.

Institutional: Where assumptions about race are structured into the social and economic institutions in our society. Institutional racism occurs when organizations, businesses, or institutions like schools and police departments discriminate, either deliberately or indirectly, against certain groups of people to limit their rights. This type of racism reflects the cultural assumptions of the dominant group.

Structural: This refers to the accumulation over centuries of the effects of a racialized society. Think again about the creation of the white middle class and what it means today to have been left out of that process of wealth-creation, home ownership, college education, etc.

Source: Racial Equity Tools


Implicit Bias

Implicit biases are the attitudes and stereotypes that affects our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. They are activated without a person's active control. They can be positive or negative, and everyone has them. Implicit biases are not permanent. They can change over time. Implicit biases have real world effects on education, employment and health care. (Source: State of the Science, Implicit Bias Review, 2014)
Implicit Bias Tools:
Trauma Informed Practices
Health Literacy
Health literacy is the degree to which an individual has the ability to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make health decisions. Some communities are more affected by limited health literacy than others, including people of color and the elderly. Limited health literacy contributes to health disparities in health outcomes.
An organization that is health literate removes barriers to health literacy by making it easier for people to find, process and understand health information. Communicating in plain language is a key strategy in addressing poor health literacy.
Health literacy tools:


Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) 

MCH supports CLAS models to improve health equity and eliminate disparities in health outcomes. Cultural responsiveness includes demonstrating respect for the individual while responding to individual needs and preferences. The Think Cultural Health website is a source of information on CLAS, cultural and linguistic competency, health equity, health disparities, and related topics. 

There are 15 national CLAS standards that are broken into three areas:

  1. Governance, leadership and workforce
  2. Communication and language assistance
  3. Engagement, continuous improvement and accountability
All the standards work together to advance the principle standard:
Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs.


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