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Leading Practices to Advance Equity and Support of Underserved Communities throughout Health and Human Services Programs

The content found on this page was initially created to inform federal staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In an effort to increase collaboration and share promising practices, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation has made these tools available for both public and private partners. Potential audiences that may be interested in these materials, include, but are not limited to, state and local governments, tribal governments, and other private or non-profit organizations focused on programs and policies relating to health and human services.

No one – no matter where they were born or live, their circumstances, or their identities should face barriers to accessing and using health and human services programs. To ensure everyone has opportunity, it is important for those who develop, implement, or assess policy and programs to consider equity in the design, implementation, and evaluation of such programs. Health and human services programs can consider equity to be both an approach to how they think about the work and a goal to understand what people need to enjoy full, healthy lives. This page contains concrete tools that health and human services programs can use to consider equity throughout their programming.

What is Equity?

The consistent and systematic, fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of colors; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality. Definition adapted from Executive Order 13985.