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February 2015Vol. 16, No. 1Increasing Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color

In observance of African-American History Month, this issue of Children's Bureau Express features a report highlighting the efforts of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Created by President Obama during the early months of his first term, the Council is tasked with ensuring that Federal Government agencies, offices, and departments consider the needs and goals of women and girls of color in all of their work. This report may be of interest to child welfare professionals working with African-American women or girls, or other girls of color, who often are disproportionality represented in child welfare.

The report discusses the challenges and barriers that women and girls of color in the United States face in several areas, such as education, health issues, economic security, violence, and criminal and juvenile justice. Each section also addresses how specific initiatives under the Obama administration are helping women and girls overcome these barriers and find avenues to new opportunities. For example, there is a gap for women and girls of color in careers and education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To help narrow this gap, the administration has supported a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting STEM education and careers for students from elementary school through college, including many girls of color. The U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top grant program allowed competitive preference points for applicant plans that featured a focus on STEM study and careers and included considerations for underrepresented groups and girls.

Women and girls of color are at higher risk for several health conditions and face clear disparities with regard to certain health indicators. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act ensured that women with private health insurance have increased access to women's preventative services. Many other initiatives have worked to improve the health and well-being of women and girls of color in the United States, such as the Centers for Disease Control's nationwide campaign to increase HIV testing among Black women and the President's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative 2010–15, which focused on preventing teen pregnancies and births in high-rate communities such as Black and Hispanic girls ages 15 to 19 years.

Read more about the challenges faced by this population and the opportunities to overcome these challenges supported by the Federal Government by accessing Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity at (1 MB).