Meet Mayra E. Alvarez: Advocate for Child Health Equity


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September 1, 2023

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center is thrilled to announce The Children’s Partnership’s collaboration with us on Somos Latinx Families — a BTC Family to Family Real Talk conversation series by and for parents.

Mayra E. Alvarez

Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership (TCP), a nonprofit advocacy organization in California, spends every working hour, and many non-working ones, fighting for policies that will improve the health and well-being of children across her home state.

The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Mayra came to TCP after working for 10 years in Washington DC, including five years in the Obama Administration, helping to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act. A strong believer in the power of government to improve people’s lives, she was drawn to TCP’s mission to advance child well-being.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead an organization that tries to fight for the right of every child, particularly little kids of color — who disproportionately live in families with low incomes — to live their healthiest life,” Mayra says. “We’re big believers that health is much more than that insurance card or what happens in a doctor’s office. There are so many factors that influence someone’s health, both negative and positive.”

For young children, those factors include the safety and stability of the homes and neighborhoods they live in, whether or not their families have access to healthy and nutritious food, the early learning opportunities available to them, and how well society supports the adults who care for them.

The Children’s Partnership achieves its mission through three main activities: research, policy, and community engagement. True to its name, TCP partners with other organizations rooted in local communities — particularly communities of color — to move forward a shared agenda for children’s health. Together, they conduct interviews, surveys, and focus groups with families, so that their voices are heard. This research then informs TCP’s advocacy at the state level for policies that expand children’s access to health care, nutrition, developmental screenings, high-quality early education, and mental health services, among other things.

“How do you elevate the experiences of families so that it is their voices that are speaking to the challenges with the healthcare system?” Mayra asks.

One vital way is to uplift the strengths of low-income and marginalized communities. Many public policies start with a deficit-based approach to helping families, which leaves people disempowered and discouraged.

“Our country’s dominant narrative is too often not about the strengths that you have as a family, as a family of color or an immigrant family. As a result, we often dismiss that the connection between family members, between parents and their children, and the support from one’s community are actually protective factors for many young kids that can be seen as a source of pride,” she says.

To learn more about Mayra and The Children’s Partnership, watch her 2020 Learning to Listen conversation about immigrant rights with BTC Executive Director Dr. Joshua Sparrow.

New collaboration with BTC

To lift up the strengths that families bring to each other, TCP is partnering this fall with the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) on the second season of Somos Latinx Families, a free, 5-episode virtual conversation series for, by, and with Latinx families. One of four series in BTC’s Family to Family Real Talk program, Somos Latinx Families explores what it means to be a parent as part of the Latinx community, raising Latinx children while navigating U.S. mainstream cultures, and connecting Latinx cultural identities to physical and mental well-being. (The other Family to Family Real Talk series focus on Black and LGBTQ2IA+ parents and families, and on parents and families raising children with developmental delays, disabilities, or severe chronic medical conditions.)

Somos Latinx Families begins on Monday, October 2, 2023, at 3 pm ET / 12 pm PT, with webinars held every other Monday through November 27. The series is moderated by Eva Rivera, MSW, Policy Director for Early Childhood Development at TCP and a National Facilitator at BTC.

“Our previous experience with the series allowed us to uplift the voices of our Latinx communities and our Latinx families, recognizing that we have the power within our own communities to heal, and it was a reminder that we are doing a lot of amazing things,” Eva says. “This year, we will continue the conversation with topics that some people find hard to talk about – like the mental health challenges our children face and the diversity and biases within the Latinx community – but we are going to highlight what is working for parents and families, what families are doing to support their children even in the face of systemic racism and societal adversities.”

“I really appreciate that BTC has developed this series to shine a light on our nation’s diverse families and communities,” Mayra adds, referring to the Family to Family Real Talk Series. “This effort really recognizes the strength and experiences of each unique community and how they contribute to supporting the healthy development of our kids. At the same time, I have watched a number of these conversations and a lot of similar themes come up across communities and cultures. When you ask parents across cultures what they care about, they almost always say the same thing—that they want their children to grow up safe, secure, and with the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are truly in the work to support all of our children together.”

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