Healthy Mouth, Healthy Start: Improving Oral Health for Young Children and Families Through Early Childhood Home Visiting

Good oral health is critical to children’s ability to grow up healthy and succeed in school and life. Yet, nationally and in California, tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic disease and unmet health care need of children. Poor oral health can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering, diminished academic outcomes, and poorer overall health over a lifetime. Further, good oral health is also critical to the health of pregnant women and potentially linked to healthy birth outcomes.

Early childhood home visiting programs, focused on the health and development of pregnant women and young children, can play a critical role in getting children off to a good start when it comes to oral health. Home visiting programs link pregnant women, young children, and parents with trained home visitors who come into their homes and provide coaching, education, and resources to improve their health and wellbeing. By bringing care into the home, children and families are more likely to get the care they need. Home visiting programs—because of their goals and the close and consistent contact home visitors have with families—provide an ideal opportunity for providing early preventive oral health education and services, while also linking families to needed oral health care.

However, the current role home visiting programs play in meeting the oral health needs of young children, pregnant women, and families is not well recognized. Nor are oral health elements of home visiting programs supported to the extent they could be. Drawing from interviews with leaders in the home visiting and oral health communities and a literature review, this issue brief examines how oral health is incorporated into the early childhood home visiting models that serve the largest number of young children in California: Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, Welcome Baby, and Early Head Start (home-based option). This brief makes the case for increasing efforts to promote oral health care in home visiting programs and strengthening the relationship between the home visiting community and the oral health community. Finally, it articulates recommendations for next steps for how home visiting programs can further address oral health disparities among young children and pregnant women.

The Affordable Care Act and Children’s Coverage in California: Our Progress and Our Future

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had tremendous impact on expanding coverage opportunities and improving the overall health of children. Over the past six years, California has been a leader in implementation of the ACA and continued the momentum with additional efforts to improve health care for families. This report offers a look into the health reform advancements made in California and detailing the future actions necessary to continue to support a healthy future for all California children. The California and Federal Action Agendas lay out concrete recommendations for advancing children’s coverage and care.

Engaging Foster Youth and Foster Parents in Electronic Records Initiatives: Lessons Learned

More than 400,000 children and youth are in foster care in the United States. Most have experienced trauma that will have a lifelong impact on their physical and mental health, educational attainment, and prospects for self-sufficiency and success. Once in foster care, this population of vulnerable minors is likely to experience frequent changes in homes and, as a result, disruptions in health care and gaps in personal records, such as medical records, birth certificates, and school transcripts. Such disruptions contribute to poor health and education outcomes. Electronic record systems have the potential to address the problem of fragmented health care and incomplete health records. This brief catalogs, to our knowledge, all consumer-facing foster care electronic records initiatives, describes lessons learned, and highlights promising strategies and practices to help guide future efforts to promote the direct connection of foster youth and foster parents to critical health and other care-related information.

Empowering Transition-Age Youth Through Technology: An Innovative Demonstration Project in Sacramento County, CA

The Children’s Partnership (TCP) completed a one-year pilot project to expand the use of HealthShack, an electronic record system designed specifically for transition-age youth (TAY) in Sacramento

County. HealthShack allows youth to upload documents and life records—for example, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and medical histories—using a scanner or cell phone camera. Once uploaded, the documents can be tagged, organized, and filed according to their purpose.This pilot demonstrated some valuable lessons and promising areas for future work. This project was developed with funding from the Our Little Light Foundation and in collaboration with Aspiranet and AltruIT 2.0, Inc. 

Ventura County Foster Health Link: Connecting Foster Families with Their Essential Records

This groundbreaking public-private initiative develops the technical, governance, policy, and programmatic components necessary to improve access to health care, care coordination, and health outcomes for 1150 children and youth living in foster care in Ventura County, California. The Ventura County Foster Health Link will enable those who provide services to foster youth to share information electronically, in addition to allowing foster parents and older foster youth to gather and share electronic records. 

Read FAQs on Ventura County Foster Health Link.

Supporting California Counties in Transitioning Foster Youth to Independence: How Electronic Record Systems Can Help Serve the Goals of AB 12

Electronic record systems designed specifically for foster youth can be used as a case management, record keeping, and empowerment tool within the context of the youth’s formal transition to self-sufficiency and adulthood. This document describes county requirements under AB 12 to equip transition age youth with their essential records and highlights opportunities for integrating electronic record systems into workflows related to formally transitioning foster youth into independence. Such a strategy holds the promise to streamline workloads for caseworkers and enhance the self-sufficiency and empowerment of youth as they move into adulthood.

Immigration Relief for Parents and Youth = Whole Family Health Coverage in California

In late 2014, President Obama announced immigration executive actions that include a new program providing temporary work authorization and protection fromdeportation for certain undocumented parents with US citizen or lawful permanent resident children. This executive action buildson similar steps the President took in 2012, which created a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that has already provided work authorization and protections to thousands of people living in the US who were brought here as children. The President’s recent executive actions are currently on hold, awaiting a court decision. However, in addition to granting a reprieve from the fear of deportation, these new immigration policies would also provide a unique opportunity in California for some of these families to gain Medi-Cal coverage, thus enrolling a large share of the remaining and hard-to-reach uninsured parents and children in the state. The Children’s Partnership and Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families released a new report outlining how to prepare for these potential new coverage opportunities in California. 

Download the Action List : How Can Your Organization Help Get DAPA and DACA Families Covered?

Download the Map: Where DAPA Eligible Parents Live in Southern California

Download the Flyer: Are you DACAmented? People with DACA Status Are Eligible for Health Coverage

Find more resources for undocumented families at ALL IN For Health


Realizing the Promise of Telehealth for Children with Special Health Care Needs

Telehealth—the use of technology to provide and coordinate health care at a distance—has proven to be an effective tool in making specialized care more accessible for children with special health care needs (CSHCN), but in California providers and families are not using this service to its full potential. A new report explores the benefits of and barriers to using telehealth and provides recommendations to integrate telehealth into California’s health care delivery system for CSHCN. The report is coauthored by The Children’s Partnership, the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), with support from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

Download the fact sheet.

Download the report.

ALL IN For Health: 2013-2015 Highlights and Lessons Learned

ALL IN For Health launched with a simple mission: equip schools and early learning centers with the tools they need to get more kids and families enrolled in health coverage. This model has proven to be highly successful—with our partners who are leaders in education and early learning, ALL IN For Health delivered more than 6.5 million messages across the state informing families about health coverage and encouraging them to take action to get covered. In the past couple of years, we’ve learned some valuable lessons about what works in conducting a statewide campaign that partners health advocates and the education community in order to benefit the children and families they both serve. Find out more in ALL IN’s Highlights and Lessons Learned: 2013–2015 and download the infographic.

CASE STORIES: Electronic Record Systems for Children and Youth in Foster Care: Why They Matter

Invaluable lessons can be gleaned from the real-world experiences of foster youth, families, and care providers who rely on the current inadequate record systems and paper case files to inform care. The case stories in this document are true accounts of how lack of access to key information adversely affects the ability of families and caregivers to provide quality care to a child or youth in foster care, and how it negatively impacts foster children and youth themselves. These stories illustrate how changes to the Child Welfare Services data system and other relevant electronic information exchange efforts could support providers and others in providing quality services and, in turn, improve outcomes for children and youth in foster care.