Canary Peers Update on Efforts to Address Systemic Bias

As committed, I want to be accountable to you, to the broader community to reducing any bias in our organization and our programs.  Here, I am reporting on what we have done this month to ensure that we continue our effort.


This month we reviewed our workshop demand projections and the staffing needs given the steady increase in our program participant numbers. We have been lucky that our services have always been online and have by the best of our projections, fared well during COVID-19. We are on track to have more participants go through our programs than in any other year.


As we looked at our peer staffing model to support an increase in participants, it was clear that we needed to grow the number of peer leaders and better represent the communities we serve by being in lockstep with the Black Lives Matter movement. One of the strengths of our programs is social modeling. Peers living with chronic conditions serve as role models and examples to model healthy behaviors and to provide a genuine voice to the program. In a world of increasingly automated behavioral health apps and services, the peer leaders give our programs a human touch.


Effectively providing these role models means providing peer leaders who represent our broad population of participants. However at this time, too small a fraction of our peer leaders are black.  In the coming months we will train new leaders and will recruit graduates from our current programs and from in-person providers offering similar programs.


Historically, our Better Choices, Better Health®(BCBH) online programs have been offered in geographic regions where participants have been largely white and a large percentage of them women. Currently 5% of BCBH workshop participants are black. This will likely change in the coming months as we roll out our programs through state partnerships with plans, employers, and community groups to provide services across geographic regions.  Our Building Better Caregivers® Program has been offered nationally throughout the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for many years with 80% of care partners identifying as black.


If you or someone from your organization are currently trained to offer in-person CDSMP or caregiver workshops and you serve communities of color, stay tuned in to our newsletters for announcements on upcoming opportunities.


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