Medicaid and CHIP Are Powerful Tools for Supporting Child Social and Emotional Development

The Center for the Study of Social Policy, with our partners at Manatt Health, are excited to release a new resource, Fostering Social and Emotional Health through Pediatric Primary Care: A Blueprint for Leveraging Medicaid and CHIP to Finance Changewhich is designed as a practical guide for advancing action in the pediatric primary care setting. [Editor’s Note: Watch the on-demand webinar here.]

Why Look to Medicaid and CHIP to Support Children’s Social and Emotional Development? We developed the Blueprint as part of the Pediatrics Supporting Parents initiative, backed by a consortium of generous funders whose investments are sparking a deep-dive into how elements of pediatric care that promote social and emotional development can be implemented and sustained. We greatly appreciate their leadership and support. In the first three years of life, a child’s brain is developing at an unparalleled pace. During this extremely sensitive period, the factors that influence social and emotional development—including a strong parent-child relationship, nurturing interactions between parent and child, and safe and stable living conditions—can have important and enduring consequences. A strong foundation can affect whether a child is prepared to begin school, achieve academic success, can anticipate physical and mental health and well-being as an adult and can become a productive member of the workforce and the community.  With so much to gain, it is vital for policymakers, health care providers and payors, advocates, and others to focus greater attention on strategies for optimizing the healthy development of young children.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can play a central role in steering the course of care delivery by financing effective pediatric care practices, making it more likely that they become routine, expected components of well-child visits for all children. Medicaid and CHIP are well-positioned to take on this challenge:

  • Medicaid and CHIP have broad reach. Nearly half of children under age three in the United States get their health insurance through these programs, and a clear majority attend regularly scheduled well-child visits (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 12 well-child visits during this period). In addition, parents tend to have a deep level of trust in their child’s pediatric care provider. That’s who they rely upon for guidance and assurance on child development matters.
  • Medicaid and CHIP are designed with the specific health needs of children in mind and have built-in flexibility to refine the way care is delivered.
  • Medicaid and CHIP focus on children with high needs. By definition, Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries are in families with low or moderate incomes. They also are at higher risk for experiencing a range of challenges that can adversely affect their social and emotional development, including low birth weight, living with a caregiver who suffers from depression, and food and housing insecurity.

Making the Most of Medicaid and CHIP Opportunities

The Blueprint released this week not only suggests what could be done to utilize Medicaid and CHIP financing opportunities, but also shows how such financing strategies can be implemented. The Blueprint draws upon critical input from Medicaid leaders both inside and outside government, a thorough review of federal statutes and regulations, Medicaid State Plans and policy documents, managed care contract language, and other resources to provide specific tools for implementation. We also highlight where helpful strategies are already operating across the country.

We are looking forward to sharing the ideas and materials featured in the Blueprint and working with Medicaid and CHIP agencies, managed care representatives, pediatric care providers, advocates, parents, and others to help improve health and make the system more responsive to the needs of children and families.

Where will seasoned and emerging leaders take these opportunities? How will their efforts further the role Medicaid and CHIP play in advancing kindergarten readiness and our children’s future academic, social, and economic success? With great excitement, we are looking forward to the new approaches and innovations that are about to materialize and welcome all contributions to this effort. Join us!

[Editor’s Note: CCF is joining our partners at the Center for the Study of Social Policy and Manatt Health to launch a blog series on the importance of Medicaid and CHIP to the healthy development of children. To follow the blog series and see related resources from CCF and other partners, visit our Early Childhood page.]