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Advocacy Milestones

For 25 years, Children’s Health Fund has contributed to important policy gains for medically underserved children and their families.

This timeline tracks some of our success stories from our founding in 1987 to the present:

Advocacy for Homeless Children

In 1989, with homelessness surging nationally, Children's Health Fund President Irwin Redlener, MD, provided expert testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.  These efforts helped lead to an amendment to the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, adding a program to provide primary health care and outreach to at-risk and homeless children.

Pediatric Asthma

In 1989, Children's Health Fund published a white paper on the staggering incidence of pediatric asthma in the New York City homeless shelter system.  The results, broadly reported in the national media, formed the clinical basis for a class-action lawsuit on behalf of homeless children with asthma, leading to enhanced bi-lingual asthma education for families and shelter staff.

“What if…” Caravan

In 1990, Children's Health Fund launched the first of a series of national initiatives to focus attention on the health needs of America’s underserved children.   The “What if…” caravan  brought a rolling, multi-state grass roots campaign to locations across the South of the U.S., spotlighting child health access barriers and the consequences of neglecting the needs of America’s children.

Health Reform 1.0

In 1992, Children's Health Fund was solicited to be an active partner in developing health reform proposals, with Dr. Redlener serving as a member of the Health Reform Task Force and speaking frequently at congressional hearings. 

Corporate Council for America’s Children

Since its inception, Children's Health Fund has been a model of public-private partnership. Strong funding support from corporations and other the private sector entities has enabled the robust growth of Children's Health Fund’s national network of clinical programs and supported the building of an effective, influential advocacy presence in Washington and among key elected officials and other policymakers.

Beginning in 1994, Children's Health Fund has convened a series of annual Washington meetings to facilitate dialogue between corporate leaders and key national policymakers on critical children’s issues.

Run-Up to State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

In 1994, with a new congressional majority pledging to reduce/restrain the size and scope of the federal budget and entitlement programs, Children's Health Fund hosted a DC gathering of partner child health provider, policy and advocacy organizations to re-group and strategize. The unanimous decision was to press forward with efforts to 1) expand eligibility for subsidized insurance for children of the working poor above the income level for Medicaid eligibility; and 2) increase funding levels for important child health programs/initiatives.

Children's Health Fund also partnered with the Benton Foundation and the National Association of Children’s Hospitals in convening a symposium entitled “What’s Possible? Politics, Public Opinion, and Children’s Health Care in 1995.”

Building on this foundation, Children's Health Fund unrolled the Kids First, Kids Now campaign, which, during the following years, convened a series of high-profile conferences to educate Congress, and raise public awareness about children’s health issues.

National Child Health Caravan II

In 1998, seeing the need to deliver a strong message to states to shake the complacency that threatened to undermine recent gains in children’s health care, Children's Health Fund organized a National Child Health Caravan (NCHC), consisting of four mobile medical units, a fully wrapped tour bus and a number of support vehicles.  After a launch on the Today Show, the caravan rolled out of New York to events and town hall meetings in New Jersey, Philadelphia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi,  Arkansas, and, most notably, a full-scale extravaganza at the base of the Washington Monument featuring Vice-President Gore and U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher.

Transportation as a Barrier to Health Care Access

In 2000, Children's Health Fund published a seminal report “Getting There, Getting Care: Transportation and Workforce Barriers to Child Health Care in Americaand followed it up in 2001 by commissioning a national survey which revealed that a startling 9% of children in households with less than $50,000 annual income (at least three million children overall) were missing routine health care appointments due to transportation barriers.

On July 12, 2001, Children's Health Fund staged a DC press conference at the National Press Club, which featured remarks by then Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) and families from West Virginia and the Anacostia section of Washington, DC, an event that brought Children's Health Fund recognition with national transportation and health policy organizations, as well as with Congress, which designated significant federal funding for a multi-pronged child health transportation initiative. This led to the development and maintenance of strong national partnerships with transportation organizations such as the Community Transportation Association of America.

Subsequently, Children's Health Fund worked in coalition to achieve the United We Ride Executive Order, in which then President Bush provided a mechanism for states to more effectively coordinate federally funded transportation programs to expand access to services.

And in 2011, Children's Health Fund co-hosted a congressional briefing, “Identifying and Addressing Transportation Barriers to Accessing Health Care”, to introduce the Health Transportation Shortage Index (HTSI), a groundbreaking tool for measuring the extent to which communities lack access to health care services due to transportation deficiencies.

Health Information Technology – Electronic Health Records

In 1989, Children's Health Fund developed and deployed National Pediatric Access Network (NPAN), the first computer-based, mobile environment patient record system on its mobile medical units, serving homeless children in New York City.  Over the years, Children's Health Fund’s clinical experience in the nation’s most medically underserved areas has informed the development of increasingly more sophisticated health information systems to ensure care quality and efficiency. Recognition of Children's Health Fund’s commitment in this area was reflected in Children's Health Fund’s receipt of the first ever Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS) Davies Community Health Organization Award in 2009.

Children's Health Fund’s work in demonstrating and building awareness of the clinical value of health information technology as a key component of the “medical home” model led to broader efforts to encourage investment in federal/state/local safety net programs.

In April 2004, Children's Health Fund sponsored “The Electronic Health Record System: Innovative Applications of Technology to Improve Health Care”, a Capitol Hill briefing/demonstration, in the Senate Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Then Senator Hillary Clinton delivered keynote remarks and acknowledged Children's Health Fund’s sponsoring of the briefing as important to her work in securing  funding for health information technology projects to improve care for medically underserved children (among others).

As federal funds were pipelined to the state level to begin assembling the critical infrastructure to support broad EHR implementation, Children's Health Fund turned its advocacy efforts to the New York State Legislature in Albany. In June, 2006, after the passage of the Health Care Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY) to expand the use of health information technology in the state’s health system, Children's Health Fund hosted a briefing and EHR demonstration at the Legislative Office Buildingto raise awareness of the importance of resources being directed to support all providers, including community-based health facilities.

In July, 2009, during the health care reform process, Children's Health Fund convened “Congressional Briefing: Children and Health Information Technology” educate Congress and other policymakers about the unique needs of medically underserved communities -- especially pediatric populations.

Children's Health Fund National Network – Washington DC Spring Clinical Conferences

Every year, the Children's Health Fund Spring Clinical Conference provides education and training sessions to prepare Children's Health Fund health leaders for a full day of Capitol Hill meetings with congressional members and staff from their state delegation. Since its inception in 2001, Children's Health Fund has organized approximately 500 Capitol Hill congressional meetings, a significant number of which included participation by congressional members

Crisis Response Advocacy

Following Children’s Health Fund’s immediate response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and building upon the response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the September 11 attacks in 2001, Children's Health Fund formally added crisis response – with a special emphasis on children – to its mission.

Among advocacy campaigns Children's Health Fund has led around crisis response include:

Pediatric Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters, Terrorism and Public Health Emergencies: National Consensus Conference.  Children's Health Fund, in partnership with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, hosted three national consensus conferences (2003, 2007, and 2009) bringing together expert stakeholders in pediatric medicine, emergency preparedness, public health, pre-hospital care, and the emergency services, developed a list of prioritized action items and recommendations on issues related to pediatric preparedness, response, and recovery to major disasters

Medical Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast.On May 9, 2006, Children's Health Fund joined Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, Voice for America’s Children, and a family from New Orleans benefiting from Children's Health Fund’s crisis response efforts to discuss the Children’s Health Fund’s Medical Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast and the findings of Children's Health Fund’s report on the status of children and families following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This event shined a national spotlight on the plight of children following Katrina and Rita, leading to Congressional appropriations supporting the Mississippi Gulfport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans projects.

National Commission on Children and Disasters. In 2008, after two years of advocacy by Children's Health Fund's and other leading child health organizations, Congress established the National Commission on Children and Disasters, and appointed Irwin Redlener as a commissioner. Many of the recommendations delivered by the Commission in its 2011 report have become policy.  The Coalition on Children and Disaster, which is comprised of many of the same organizations that advocated for the NCCD, continues on now that the Commission has closed and is co-chaired by Children's Health Fund.

Disaster Case Management.On October 7, 2009, Children's Health Fund convened the first-ever conference of the major providers of disaster case management to discuss ways to reform the program after lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike showed tens of thousands of children and families slipped between the cracks that case management programs were supposed to fill. The conference led to a report which became the backbone for a Congressional hearing called by Senator Landrieu on December 2, 2009 where Irwin Redlener testified. On March 11, 2011, officials from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security announced comprehensive reforms to disaster case management programs, many of which followed the recommendations from the Children's Health Fund report.

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Following the April 2010 oil spill, Irwin Redlener joined the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling as an advisor on public issues. Leveraging information collected by Children's Health Fund and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Dr. Redlener provided some of the only work on the effects of the spill on children that appeared in the final report to the president.

Defense of Safety Net

SCHIP ReauthorizationOn October 17, 2007, in the wake of presidential veto, Children's Health Fund co-founders Paul Simon and Irwin Redlener joined congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to urge passage of SCHIP legislation.  Children's Health Fund’s presence and messaging dramatically elevated visibility of the event and yielded significant media coverage, including broad internet dissemination of Paul Simon’s remarks and a lengthy CNN interview with Mr. Simon and Dr. Redlener.

SCHIP Briefing.In partnership with First Focus, Children's Health Fund sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing, “Beyond SCHIP – Bridging the Gap from Coverage to Access” in February 2009, focusing on persistent access barriers and how they should be addressed within the context of then pending health reform legislation.

Kids Can’t Wait. In response to the severe recession that began in 2008, Children's Health Fund launched Kids Can’t Wait, a multi-pronged advocacy and action campaign in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Children’s Hospitals and the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairpersons.  Following the release of the white paper “The Recession Generation: Detroit’s Children at the Center of the Nation’s Economic Crisis,” Children's Health Fund mobile medical units converged on Detroit in April 2009 to provide care to all in need. The event received strong support and appearances from top-tier political leaders, including Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman John Dingell.  On September 16, 2009, in partnership with AAP. NACH and AMSPDC, Children's Health Fund and its partners mounted a major press event on the West Capitol Lawn, where Senate majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Paul Simon, Jane Pauley and the presidents of three of the nation’s leading pediatric provider groups in delivering an urgent message to Congress that “access and coverage for children should be paramount in health reform.”  Children's Health Fund released a white paper, “The Recession and Child Health Access: Why 21 Million Uninsured Kids and Young Americans Can’t Wait for Health Reform,” to coincide with the event.

Health Reform 2.0 – Battle of the Budget

In the face of partisan debates over the Affordable Care Act, Children's Health Fund rallied support to protect the ACA and key federal safety net programs, issuing press releases, videos and the report, Children Under Siege: Safeguarding Provisions for Children in the New Health Law

Child Leaders Group - Leading Child Advocacy Efforts to Focus on Poverty in the 2012 Elections

In the run-up to the 2012 elections, Children's Health Fund’s President, Irwin Redlener, convened a meeting of the nation’s foremost child advocates in Washington to discuss the presidential candidates’ public plans and positions regarding children and poverty. The group, which in addition to Dr. Redlener, included Mark Shriver of Save the Children; Billy Shore of Share Our Strength; Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children's Zone; Michael Petit of Every Child Matters; and Bruce Lesley of First Focus, sent letters to both candidates, asking how they would address childhood poverty and access to health care.

The Obama campaign emailed a response while Governor Romney's campaign chose not to respond. Children's Health Fund used the responses to help elevate the issue, and, collectively, through print articles, electronic media, online blogs etc., the voice of the group helped ensure that children’ voices were ultimately represented in the 2012 presidential election cycle.