Drafting New Medicaid Policy Wonks at the 2016 Alliance for Early Success Partner Summit

Group Of Cute Little Prescool Kids Drawing

Last month, Elisabeth Wright Burak and I travelled to Arizona to take part in our first Alliance for Early Success partner summit.

The Alliance for Early Success is a “catalyst for bringing state, national and funding partners together to improve state policies for children, starting at birth and continuing through age eight, with a priority on children most-at-risk for poor outcomes”. We are thrilled about our new project with the Alliance to improve young children’s access to services and supports in Medicaid and CHIP, with an initial focus on state policy options for behavioral health services. In particular, we are thrilled to engage new partners in the early childhood community around Medicaid – our favorite topic!

The meeting brought together policy leaders from across the early childhood community. It was an effective reminder about the intersection of issues that affect children during their earliest years. From one meeting session:

  • Poverty. About one-quarter of young children live in poverty.
  • Race. The share of young children living in poverty increases to 43% for African-American children and 34% for Hispanic children.
  • Immigration. About one-quarter of young children has an immigrant parent, and 97% of young children in immigrant families are citizens.

As readers of Say Ahhh! know, the stresses of growing up in poverty can impact children’s health. Dr. Howard Stevenson dug deeper on this during his session on cultivating racial literacy. One area of his research focuses on resolving racially stressful encounters during childhood by using tools such as storytelling, mindfulness, breathing, debate and role-play.

Another session focused on the importance of Medicaid for children, especially young children, highlighting efforts in Florida and New Mexico. CCF’s Elisabeth Wright Burak reminded participants all about the importance of Medicaid and CHIP for children: almost half(44%) of children under 6 are covered through Medicaid and CHIP—the percentage rises to 80% among children near poverty (138% FPL). Diana Ragbeer from Florida Children’s Trust recounted multi-year efforts of Florida advocates to eliminate the five-year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrant children which went into place earlier this year. Florida children subject to the five-year bar were missing school due to illness and a lack of access to health care. Jane McGrath and Tara Ford from New Mexico discussed an exciting new medical-legal partnership with the goal of improving screenings for children. The group discussion also highlighted relevant new resources: our report with CLASP on maternal depression and Medicaid expansion, as well as a 50-state report from the National Center for Children in Poverty on Medicaid and young children’s mental health services.

The energy from the summit made us more excited to roll our sleeves up and get to work on better care for young children—we are thrilled to be a part of the Alliance network and look forward to working with partners across the country.

Karina Wagnerman
Karina Wagnerman is a Senior Health Policy Analyst at the Center for Children and Families

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