Green Cars for Kids provides free transportation for children and expectant mothers who have limited or no access to transportation to and from their non-emergency health care appointments using EVs.Guest Blog and Dory Larsen | June 9, 2023
Green Cars for Kids is a non-profit organization that provides free transportation for children and expectant mothers who have limited or no access to transportation to and from their non-emergency health care appointments using all-electric vehicles (EVs). The pilot program officially launched on May 31 in Broward County, Florida and is already making an impact on the community. This community-driven, collaborative effort brings together many partners to create a replicable model for reducing transportation barriers and improving health outcomes. The program is generously supported by the March of Dimes and will be working with ride service Freebee to tap into their ADA-compliant EV fleet and on-demand app. Importantly, the program will make sure meet unique community needs like providing a multilingual phone dispatcher, and can be used by those with and without smartphone technology. Data-driven surveys will also measure success of the program and help improve the services and tracking of rides requested and provided.
Conceived From Community Need
Green Cars for Kids (GC4K) was founded by Dr. Catherine Toms, MD, MPH, who realized the impact climate has on maternal health while she was a resident in medical school and had a profound experience with a woman in preterm labor who had been working in the fields on a hot day. Years later, Dr. Toms has modeled the program after Kid One which was founded by Russell Jackson. Russell also sits on GC4K’s Board of Directors. GC4K is being guided by advisory committee members, many of whom are leaders in South Florida’s Haitian and Black communities. Dory Larsen, Senior ET Program Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy also proudly serves on the Board of Directors of Green Cars for Kids.
Floridians Face Dire Statistics Around Birth Outcomes
Despite having the highest national GDP in the world, American women have the highest maternal mortality rate compared to similar high-income countries.
However, those rates are not evenly distributed. The health inequities Black women face make them three times more likely to die due to pregnancy complications than white women.
For infants in Florida, the preterm birth rate of 10.6% has earned the state a grade of a D+ by the March of Dimes. Poor birth outcomes in the state is partially caused by the lack of comprehensive prenatal care. In 2020, almost 20% of women who give birth in Miami-Dade County received inadequate prenatal care. Numerous studies and institutions have identified the lack of reliable transportation as a barrier to prenatal and postpartum care.
For infants in Florida, the preterm birth rate of 10.6% has earned the state a D+ grade by the March of Dimes. One of those reasons for poor birth outcomes is a lack of comprehensive prenatal care. In 2020, almost 20% of women who give birth in Miami-Dade County received inadequate prenatal care. Numerous studies and institutions have identified the lack of reliable transportation as a barrier to prenatal and postpartum care.
Floridians are Already Experiencing the Negative Effects of the Fossil Fuel-Driven Climate Crisis
Fossil-fuel-powered transportation is the biggest contributor to emissions pollution and is fueling both warmer temperatures and poor air quality in our communities. Miami-Dade leads the nation in counties that will see the biggest jump in extreme heat days (when the heat index passes 100°F) from about 50 days in 2023 to 91 days by 2053, according to a nationwide study by the nonprofit First Street Foundation. Additionally, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough Counties received B and D ratings, respectively, from the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report. Children, pregnant women, low-income communities, and communities of color experience disproportionate health effects from air pollution for many reasons but often because they live near busy, polluted roadways.
Green Cars for Kids is a Multi-Pronged Solution to Help Solve Both Problems
Green Cars for Kids is a climate, health, and equity solution to critical transportation and pollution issues. It aims to improve maternal and child health within our communities in several ways including:
- Increasing access to care, by reducing transportation barriers for clients with the greatest need while improving health outcomes and health system revenue by providing door-to-door rides to scheduled appointments.
- Employing a data-based approach using Federal Climate and Economic Justice Screening and Medically Underserved Area tools to identify target populations.
- Educating clients about their health and the health of their families using video screens built into the back seats of the vehicles.
- Improving community health directly by reducing air pollution using all-electric vehicles in the short term.
- Decreasing greenhouse gas pollution that fuels climate impacts like extreme heat in the long term.
- Collaborating with multiple community partners, supporting economic growth and an equitable transition to transportation electrification.
Programs Like This Have Room to Grow
The need to address access to healthcare in an affordable, climate-friendly way is not unique to South Florida. Demonstrating success with the GC4K pilot could lead to additional funding and expansion of the program to cities all across the state and country. Because this is a true community program, it depends on connecting members of communities together in a sustainable way.
If you are interested in growing the pilot, you can help in several ways:
- Healthcare providers can help by referring patients to the program and providing feedback on the neighborhoods that have the most need.
- Community members can learn more about the program including how to donate a ride, communicate with Green Cars for Kids about how to improve the program, and follow Green Cars for Kids on social media to be part of the journey.
Electrify the South is a Southern Alliance for Clean Energy program that leverages research, advocacy, and outreach to promote renewable energy and accelerate the equitable transition to electric transportation throughout the Southeast. Visit ElectrifytheSouth.org to learn more and connect with us.