Children and youth deserve quality, affordable, coordinated and culturally sensitive health services, mental health services and nutrition to learn, grow and thrive.
The health and education sectors play critical roles in promoting healthy outcomes for child well-being and long-term success in life. Excluding homes, child health systems and schools have the most direct influence on a child’s development.
DC Action for Children supports strengthening access to critical health supports, such as School-Based Health Services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, DC Healthy Families, the Immigrant Children's Program, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program.
Where DC Stands
- Health Insurance Coverage: While the District of Columbia saw a statistically significant decline in its child uninsured rate from 2016 to 2017, only 54 percent of children receive coordinated, on-going, comprehensive care within a medical home.
- School Based Health Services: DC Health provides school health services to more than 70,000 students in 175 DC public and public charter schools. The overarching goal of the District of Columbia School Health Services Program is to improve the health of students, enabling them to thrive in the classroom and beyond by creating greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health. By nature of the amount of time children spend in school, schools play a critical role in helping students manage chronic diseases and improving care coordination between health care service within and outside schools and homes.
Our Child and Adolescent Health Agenda
1. Ensure we don't lose ground on children's coverage
Medicaid and DC Healthy Families provide health insurance for DC children and youth, bring federal dollars into the District, and help our kids grow into healthy, productive adults. The District also uses local funds to provide coverage and health services to immigrant children and families. DC Action for Children is monitoring each program's policy and enrollment, as well as tracking the number of kids who are receiving consistent care in a medical home. Across the country, more than 840,000 children lost coverage in 2018. Let's ensure we don't lose ground on children's coverage in DC.
2. Evaluate the system of school-based care necessary for students to learn and thrive
In our 2016 needs assessment report, we found that students attending DCPS and DC PCS face a variety of chronic conditions in addition to common childhood ailments that can affect their ability to focus in the classroom. We're currently evaluating the school health services implementation with the goal of improving the coordination of care for all students.
3. Protect federal and local investments in food security and nutrition for children and youth
Federal nutrition programs reduce food insecurity, improves school performance and children’s health, and improves long-term outcomes for families. While the District has been pretty successful in reaching eligible children, youth and families for WIC and SNAP, there are opportunities to strengthen the programs. For example, by continuing the online application for SNAP launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, and by ensuring that households get all of the deductions for which they qualify.
What You Can Do
1. Join us and stay up-to-date on the results of our monitoring and evaluation of these critical health programs.
2. Urge your Councilmembers to support and fully fund these priorities.
DC Medicaid provides health care to almost one in three District residents, and DC Healthy Families (also known as CHIP) provides coverage to children in families with incomes above the Medicaid limit. The bulk of the budget for both programs comes from federal funds.
2020 POLICY SNAPSHOT
In order to provide health care to those in need regardless of immigration status, DC created and funds two programs: the Immigrant Children’s Program and DC Health Care Alliance.
2020 POLICY SNAPSHOT
SNAP, formerly the food stamp program, is a federally funded program that helps eligible low-income children and families afford food.
2020 POLICY SNAPSHOT
WIC is a federal funded program that provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to low-income pregnant and postpartum adults, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk.
Research from a range of disciplines provides compelling evidence linking the importance of student health with academic performance: when students are healthy, they are better learners. Since all children are required to attend school starting at age five, school health providers are in a unique position to regularly and consistently support student health.
Child well-being is important for community and economic development in our city. Young children with strong mental health are prepared to develop crucial skills that help build the basis of a prosperous and sustainable society. When we ensure the healthy development of members of the next generation, they will pay that back through productivity and responsible citizenship.
Medicaid and CHIP are crucial parts of the social safety net, providing health insurance coverage to more than half of all children ages 0–21 in D.C.1 and a third of children nationally.2 Without these two programs, more than 97,000 children in the District would have been uninsured in 2010.3 New research indicates that compared with the uninsured, Medicaid recipients are more likely to seek medical treatment, report better physical and mental health and experience less financial stress.4 Protecting Medicaid/CHIP is extremely important to safeguarding the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children. The difficult fiscal environment currently facing both D.C. and the federal government will almost certainly impact the future of public health insurance coverage for children and their families.