The National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) today named state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) to its inaugural Maternal and Child Health Fellowship program. Sykes joins 24 other lawmakers and health policy experts from across the country who will work together to improve public policy and practices related to better maternal and child health outcomes.
“I am very excited to engage national leaders in an effort to improve the lives of women and children in Ohio,” said Sykes. “From high infant and maternal mortality to low investments in children’s services, we face serious challenges that continue to hold Ohio families back. I am hopeful we can bring together advocates and experts in our state to better inform this national discussion while also finding new ways to strengthen mothers, children, and families here at home.”
Sykes is planning a Jan. 23 listening session with Ohio health advocates and experts in advance of NCSL’s first three-day fellowship meeting later this month, which will explore policy solutions to maternal mortality and other critical issues facing families. Organizations or individuals interested in participating in the discussion can contact Rep. Sykes’s office.
The fellowship program focuses on solving problems that affect families, like access to prenatal and well-child care, pregnancy-related death and injuries, infant mortality prevention, infertility, emergency medical services, newborn screening and services for children with special health care needs.
“I am hopeful that by integrating best practices and expertise from leading health advocates in Ohio and around the country, we can find a long-term solutions to health disparities and reduce maternal mortality rates in communities across our state,” added Sykes.
During her time in the legislature, Sykes has been an outspoken advocate for health policies that reduce infant mortality, increase access to care and protect healthcare funding for Ohio women and children. Her legislation increasing adoption awareness in Ohio recently passed the legislature, and she has pending legislation to raise maternal mortality awareness, as the state’s pregnancy-related death rate continues to rise.
She serves as a member of the state’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee and as the Democratic leader of the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. A lawyer, Sykes also holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of Florida.