NICHQ’s Next Steps: Update on the Equity Systems Continuum Initiative

January 13, 2022

Group of hospital staff

The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is refining an evidence-informed conceptual framework known as the Equity Systems Continuum to describe and define the systems that individuals and organizations currently operate within: Supremist-Designed Systems, Savior-Designed Systems, Ally-Designed Systems, and Equity-Empowered Systems. The Global Infant Safe Sleep Center (GISS) developed the original framework and serves as an ongoing partner in the project. 

As NICHQ refines the Equity Systems Continuum, we will assess, share, and nurture our own internal progress. At the conclusion, NICHQ and other organizations will be able to identify where they are on the continuum by utilizing an Equity Systems Auditing Tool (ESAT), that is being developed and piloted as part of this initiative.  

Recently, NICHQ staff were asked to pilot the ESAT to help NICHQ evaluate organizational progress along the Continuum as part of our ongoing commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization. Staff completed the ESAT and provided feedback on the content and structure of the tool – directly in the survey response and through focus groups as needed. The project team will use these results to refine and strengthen the ESAT for future iterations and expanded use with broader audiences. Following analysis, NICHQ will share results with staff and develop strategies for the organization to advance along the Equity Systems Continuum. 

"Our goal is to use the ESAT to help organizations like NICHQ to do an internal assessment of staff's perceptions of the organization's internal commitment to equity," said Dr. Scott. "We recognize the importance of weighing perception against a person's experience and taking into account an organization's actions are key in helping to determine the next steps needed to become an equity-empowered system." 

NICHQ will consult with a cadre of subject-matter experts about the next steps in refining the ESAT tool. In 2022, NICHQ will pilot the ESAT with a select few maternal and child health-focused organizations. After thorough testing and revision, the ESAT will be made available for widespread use among maternal and child health-focused organizations health care and hospital systems, and beyond. 

Interested in the ESAT and following along with NICHQ’s equity journey? Sign up for email updates.