The social conditions that lead to health disparities, including location, education and economic stability, were discussed at the Southern Louisiana Community Health Summit on Friday.
The event was held at the Acadiana Arts Center and organized by the non-profit group Beacon Community Connections.
About 33% of Louisiana households are economically faced with the challenge of paying for items in a rudimentary “survival” budget that does not include disposable infant diapers, said Sarah Berthelot, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of United Ways.
These are not households that are below the federal poverty line, but just above it, people who “have limited assets, limited income and employment,” or Alice.
United Way Louisiana calculates the cost of items or services needed to survive today, including housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, technology like smartphones, miscellaneous and taxes. Fifty-one percent of Louisiana households, including those living below the poverty line, do not meet the survival budget. Eighteen percent are below the poverty line, while 33%, around 576,000 families are above the poverty line but in the Alice category, she said.
Alice’s families are struggling to cover all the costs of the survival budget, Berthelot said, compromising on something like the quality of child care in order to feed their families. They don’t have the luxury of a ânest eggâ for emergencies and are one step away from the disaster, she said.
Louisiana’s employment rate is low and its poverty rate is stable, Berthelot said, but the number of families in the Alice category is increasing in part because Louisiana’s job growth has been faster among low-wage jobs, leaving families employed but struggling.
Louisiana ‘Work Poor’ Households Rise as Low-Wage Jobs Expand
The current report is based on data from 2018, before the devastating hurricanes in 2020 and 2021 and before the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from 2018, Berthelot said, predicted that about 12% of Louisiana’s households were on the verge of falling below the poverty line.
The State of Louisiana has launched a pilot Unite Louisiana platform for health and social service providers to better meet the needs of residents, especially those in the Alice category or below the poverty line, has said Terri Ricks, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Children. Family services.
The closed-loop referral system allows a provider who recognizes a client’s needs to connect them with others who can meet those needs. For example, if an agency helps a resident with DSNAP benefits but learns that the person has housing needs, they can use the platform to find housing assistance. It also makes it easy for the provider to track the client to see if they received the help they needed, she said.
“No agency has the answer,” said Bently Senegal, director of community services at the Notre-Dame de Lourdes Regional Medical Center. “But together we can get the job done.”