Children’s Health

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Children’s Health2022-08-31T08:15:14-05:00

Healthy Children Thrive and Flourish

To survive and thrive, all children need access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage that is easy to get and keep.

Unmet health needs can result in children falling behind developmentally and having trouble catching up physically, socially, and academically. Poor children and children of color have worse access to health care and as a result often start life several steps behind their wealthier and healthier White peers. This is why CDF-Ohio works to ensure all children have access to child-specific health coverage that is affordable for families. Thanks in large part to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the number of uninsured children in Ohio was at historic lows until recently. We are working to reverse this trend to get all CHIP/Medicaid eligible children enrolled, and to ensure that children who do not yet have coverage get it. We must not move backward. Instead we must work to expand health coverage for the remaining uninsured children, keep all children enrolled in coverage, and ensure timely access to appropriate care.

The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio is proud to be a part of the Packard Foundation’s Finish Line Project, working to make sure that all children have healthcare coverage. Ohio’s Finish Project is supported through a collaboration of funders in 2022 and they include:

  • Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland,
  • St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland
  • The Cleveland Foundation,
  • The Bruening Foundation, and
  • Medical Mutual Charitable Foundation of Ohio

End Health Disparities

Children’s health is inextricably linked to their families’ incomes, access to quality education, access to healthy food, and other social determinants that impact children throughout their lives.

Children of color, children experiencing poverty and children from other marginalized populations suffer worse health outcomes than their peers, and because of this, CDF-Ohio is working to end health disparities among Ohio children. Through the Ohio Statewide Health Disparities Collaborative, we work to achieve culturally competent health care delivery, collect and disseminate data on racial and ethnic disease occurrences to guide prevention and treatment, and provide practical information on addressing health disparities.

Issues of health equity are critical to children and families. It’s especially critical as we consider our essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with UHCAN Ohio, CDF-Ohio explored the issue of health coverage and care for our most vulnerable Ohioans – especially those who do not qualify for the Medicaid program. The issue brief details the various programs available to support critical health services – especially during this pandemic – and recommendations as to how to make sure essential workers and their families are safe.

Health Equity & Building an Inclusive Health System for All Who Live and Work in Ohio

November 27, 2020

Ensure Children’s Access to Health Coverage

Ohio Takes a Step Forward to Protect Infant and Maternal Health

By Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate

April 5, 2022

As of April 1, 2022, thousands of women in Ohio at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage are now able to access health care for the critical 12 months after giving birth.

Ohio’s FY 2022-23 biennial budget, signed into law in June 2021, included language that allows Medicaid to extend health coverage to women whose income falls between 138% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a full year after giving birth. That means a new mother in a family of 4 making between $38,295- $53,000 is now able to maintain Medicaid coverage while she recovers from giving birth and adjusts to life as a new mom. Ohio Medicaid estimates this coverage will benefit approximately 14,000 new moms.

This coverage is a pivotal step forward to protect infant and maternal health and improve Ohio’s dismal maternal mortality rate. The budget included $46 million over the biennium to pay for these services and will allow Ohio to draw down matching funds from the federal government.  Medicaid will also be able to collect data on access to services, utilization, and health outcomes, which are all important measures used to support and improve maternal health.

Read full issue brief here.

Despite years of progress, too many Ohio children still lack health coverage and that number is growing

Ohio saw nearly a decade of improvements in making sure children have the health coverage they need to stay healthy.  Unfortunately, Ohio has seen increases in the number of children who were disenrolled from the CHIP/Medicaid and lack health coverage. According to the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) data reported by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families (CCF), Ohio’s 2018 child uninsurance rate is 4.8%, a full percentage point over the 2016 rate of 3.8%. This translates to 29,000 more uninsured children.

CDF-Ohio works in partnership with the Ohio Department of Medicaid and other non-profit and community-based organizations around the state to ensure that all children who are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP get enrolled, stay enrolled, and use their health coverage.

During the pandemic, rates of child enrollment have increased due to individuals with children losing their health insurance and the growing need for coverage.

Connecting children to health care is today’s challenge

During the years of the pandemic, children across Ohio and the country face the challenges of securing the health care they need to be healthy and thrive. Even before the pandemic, children throughout the state and their families struggled to find care as a result of cost, lack of coverage, health care provider shortages, transportation barriers, lack of paid time off for parents to be able to take their children to appointments, and lack of broadband services, internet subscriptions, and devices to access the care children need. In the past several years, the CDF-Ohio team engaged in conversations with education leaders, parents, policymakers and care providers to learn more about innovative approaches to connecting children and families to consistent care. We repeatedly heard a common theme – we need to remove these barriers and get care to where the children are. We began a journey of exploration and learning on school-based, community connected care.  The following blogs, issue briefs, infographics, and resources are intended to inform and build awareness about bridging the gap between health needs and services for children and families. Please contact Kelly Vyzral for more information on this work.

Webinar: School-Based Health Care

This month Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio will bring together a panel of experts in the field of school-based health care to discuss the current landscape of school-based health in Ohio. They will discuss important issues such as why school health is important, the roles that providers, nurses, and schools play in school health, funding mechanisms, and expected outcomes.

Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
Francie Wolgin, Executive Director, Growing Well, and Senior Program Officer, Interact for Health
Mary Kay Irwin, Senior Director, School Health, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Abbie Crookham, RN, Deaconess Health Check, Cincinnati Health Department

Friday, February 11, 2022 at 1:30PM

View Recording Here

Download Webinar Slide-Deck Here

Infographic: School-based Health Care Keeps Children in School and Ready to Learn.

Data Resource ToolkitThe research is clear: children who attend school regularly do better academically. We also know that children who are healthy are less likely to miss school and more likely to be engaged in learning. However, not all children have what they need to be successful.

In fact, studies have shown that students with persistent health issues have a higher probability of school failure, repeating grades, and leaving high school without a diploma.

      • 8.1% of children 17 & under have been diagnosed with asthma (2018-2019)
      • 48% of 3rd graders have a history of tooth decay (2017-2018)
      • 17.2% of youth ages 10-17 are at an unhealthy weight – Ohio ranks 17th nationally (2019-2020)
      • 52.2% of youth (ages 12-17) with major depression do not receive any mental health treatments. Ohio ranks 11th nationally (2017-2018)

Lack of health care and inconsistent care oftentimes mean that children experience pain, health complications, and other issues that can impact their ability to attend school regularly and be ready to learn.

  • However, we know it doesn’t have to be this way.  Ohio must break down all barriers that prevent children and families from accessing health care. Expanding access through school-based health care for these children
    and their families could make all the difference.
  • School districts across Ohio can use federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to create sustainable plans and bridge funding to meet children’s health needs.
  • Increase the number of school nurses in schools to ensure that all school districts are meeting the national standard of 1 school nurse to 750 students.
  • Expand the type of services and providers that are allowed to bill Medicaid – through the Medicaid in Schools Program – to expand access to health coverage and services for students while achieving financial stability.
  • Grow partnerships between school districts and community health centers, hospital systems, ADAMH boards, or singular providers to leverage health service capacity in communities and to forge community connections between service providers and families.
  • Dedicate capital dollars to support school-based health care to provide services
    through the following:

    • Build new spaces dedicated to providing needed health services for students.
    • Retrofit an area already existing that could be used to provide care to students.
    • Invest in medical mobile units that can drive to several different schools and
      provide care to students.

To learn more, contact Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate.

From February 2020 through July 2021, 26 counties across Ohio saw enrollment increases of children in Medicaid exceeding 11%. Visit this page to learn more about the percentage rate changes in each county throughout the state.

Learn more about our work and read articles from our monthly lawmaker newsletters:

April 2020 Newsletter 

  • Medicaid/CHIP Protects Ohio Families and Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Medicaid’s Role in Protecting Vulnerable Children & Families
  • Much Remains to Be Done to Address the Real Needs of Ohio Families & Children: State and Federal Policy Recommendations

May 2020 Newsletter

June 2020 Newsletter

  • COVID-19 Underscores Urgent Action to Advance Health Equity
  • Ohio Medicaid Fuels Economic Recovery
  • Healthy Transitions to Adulthood for Ohio’s Foster Youth

July 2020 Newsletter

  • Ohio Rising to the Challenges: Economic and Pandemic Crises
  • Protecting Family & Children

August 2020 Newsletter

  • 12 Months Continuous Care Postpartum Supports Infants and Mothers
  • Scheduled Cut to Federal CHIP Funding will Harm Ohio Children and Families
  • Broadband Access Remains Barrier to Thousands of Ohio Families & Children

September 2020 Newsletter

  • Ohio Supports Evidence-Based Home Visits to Address Infant Mortality
  • Protect and Expand School-Based Health Centers to Support Students
    and Families During COVID-19
  • Increasing Federal Medicaid Funding Will Protect Ohio Families and
    Help Stabilize our Economy

October 2020 Newsletter – Policy Priorities for Ohio’s Children

  • Supporting Child Health Equity
  • Improving Infant and Maternal
  • Protecting Medicaid Coverage
    for Children
  • Prioritizing Ongoing and Early
    interventions and Well-Child
  • Increasing Access to Child
    Behavioral Health Services

November 2020 Newsletter

  • Medicaid Coverage of Doula Services Would Save the Lives of Mothers
    and Babies and Avoid Costly Complications

December 2020 Newsletter

  • Opportunities for Ohio Children in Medicaid RFA

January 2021 Newsletter

  • Medicaid Provides Long-term Benefits to Ohioans & the Buckeye State

February 2021 Newsletter

March 2021 Newsletter

April 2021 Newsletter

May 2021 Newsletter

June 2021 Newsletter

July 2021 Newsletter

August 2021 Newsletter 

Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Community Outreach and Enrollment

In 2014, CDF-Ohio completed groundbreaking work, Reaching Ohio’s Ethnic Minority Children, in collaboration with community-based organizations across Ohio highlighting the need to do targeted, culturally competent outreach to immigrant and ethnic minority communities to ensure that children in those communities access Medicaid and CHIP. That work has led CDF-Ohio to continued work to educate and inform state and advocacy partners about immigrant children and pregnant women’s eligibility for Medicaid. Through its work, CDF-Ohio shines a light on the needs of children who are often forgotten, but who will help build Ohio’s diverse future.

Community Health Workers Can Connect Families to Coverage

CDF-Ohio and its partners believe that children and families can better benefit from their health coverage when culturally-competent, widely-available care coordination helps ensure that they use all of the coverage options, including those guaranteed to children though Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT). Community health workers are a key part of ensuring that children from poor communities, children of color, and children from ethnic minority populations have access to care coordination.

CDF-Ohio Resources

Medicaid/CHIP Ensures Ohio Children Get a Healthy Start Healthy Start, May 26, 2020

A Voice for Ohio Children’s Health, May 2020

A Voice for Ohio Children’s Health, April 2020

Useful Resources

The National Health Law Program’s explanation of the Legal Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA)

A list of states that have adopted the ICHIA option at

ICHIA Fact Sheet – Immigrant Eligibility for Medicaid

Child Watch Ohio

Elevating Stories from Ohioans

Health Care is a basic need for every family in Ohio, and as we enter the fourth month of a public health emergency caused by the Coronavirus, accessing quality health care is critical. Ohio’s unemployment rate skyrocketed as nearly 1.3 million unemployment claims have been filed. With the loss of jobs and incomes, families are struggling to maintain health care coverage and access to care.

Prior to the pandemic, the state of Ohio experienced one of the sharpest increases in the child uninsured rates in the nation. The Ohio Department of Medicaid and the DeWine Administration committed to examining its system to ensure that eligible children and families have access to the care they need. Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio is committed to working with partners across the state and the nation to ensure all children have health care coverage and access to services – especially during this time.

The Child Watch Ohio series provides a window into the on the ground reality of many Ohioans. These stories share the experiences of families, service providers, health care providers and others around the state with a focus on challenges and barriers to accessing and maintaining health care during the pandemic. The human impact of how COVID-19 pandemic is affecting families and communities and highlighting the importance of quality, accessible healthcare in a time of crisis.

It is critically important to make these real human stories accessible to policy makers whose districts are affected by these challenges. Further, Child Watch Ohio series offer policy recommendations informed by those directly impacted by the pandemic and by the already-existing weaknesses in our human services system to alleviate barriers and make health care more accessible to all Ohioans.

In March, 2021, CDF-Ohio launched is second series of ChildWatch Ohio stories. Centering communities and the voices of parents, providers, and their children is critical to understanding the challenges and opportunities they face in accessing health coverage and care. The series will feature personal stories that have been entrusted with CDF-Ohio to detail the needs of individuals during this time and beyond. Their stories and personal reflections are the foundation for our policy priorities and agenda and drive our work everyday.

Improving Maternal and Infant Care with Doula Support: A New Parent’s Reflections

August 25, 2021

Improving Infant and Maternal Health with Doula Support: Part 2 Training & Certification 

By Ashley Sova, CLEbaby

June 3, 2021

Improving Infant and Maternal Health with Doula Support

April 29, 2021

Doula Care is Essential Healthcare to Parents Across Ohio and Improves Health Outcomes for All

March 25, 2021

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio launched its first Child Watch Ohio series on July 15th, with one to follow every two weeks through September, 2020. The initial story focuses on the southeastern Ohio counties of Jackson and Vinton and discusses evidence-based home visiting, maternal health, and barriers to care such as transportation and lack of service and equipment for telehealth service options.

In Southeastern Ohio, babies at risk of not getting needed care

July 15, 2020

Community Health Center in Southwest Ohio Pivots Quickly to Serve Families during the Covid-19 Pandemic

July 30, 2020

On Cleveland’s West side, concerns over children missing

August 10, 2020

Pandemic Raises Questions about Keeping Essential Farm Workers and Families Safe and Healthy in Northwest Ohio

September 3, 2020

Lucas County Focuses on Infant and Maternal Care and More Is Needed

September 24, 2020

In Southeastern Ohio, Families and Teens Struggle to Manage Diabetes during the Pandemic

October 7, 2020

Part 2: In Southeastern Ohio, Families and Teens Struggle to Manage Diabetes during the Pandemic

October 21, 2020

Millions of Ohio Families and Children Are at Risk of Losing Healthcare Coverage if ACA is Dismantled

November 13, 2020

On June 25, 2020, Ohio confirmed 894 new cases of COVID-19 and seventeen Ohioans lost their lives to the virus. On that very day in Washington D.C., in a move that seems completely counterintuitive and dangerous, the Trump Administration and 18 Republican governors and attorneys general filed their opening briefs with the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act in California v. Texas.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), is the health reform law signed on March 23, 2010, by President Barack Obama. The main objective of the ACA is to provide more Americans with access to affordable health insurance. The ACA increased health insurance coverage by expanding Medicaid to families up to 138% of FPL, requiring large employers to provide full-time employees health insurance, offering tax credits to low- and middle-income families to help them purchase health insurance, protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26, and required most individuals to secure minimum essential coverage.

Read full article here.

Protect Children’s Mental Health

Ensure all children can grow up in safe and healthy homes and free from the damages of lead poisoning

Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body and is especially harmful to children in their first five years of life because it disrupts the rapid brain development they are undergoing. While there is no safe level of lead in the body, public health actions are recommended to be initiated when a child has blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood. Children living at or below the poverty line and who live in older housing are at greater risk.

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio is proud to be a member of the Ohio Lead Free Kids Coalition and work in partnership to secure policies, funding, and programs that support healthy children and families. Read our Child Lead Poisoning Issue Brief, published in partnership with Groundwork Ohio: Lead Poisoning’s Impact on Young Children.

Children’s Defense Fund Ohio is a proud partner of the Ohio Lead Free Kids Coalition. In light of the COVID-19, the Coalition has issued a Factsheet for parents and caregivers on how to protect their children and the children in their care from lead poisoning risks in older homes.

All children have an absolute right to grow up with dignity and free from harm, abuse, and trauma.

Access to mental health services must be a priority for all children, and especially for children who have suffered trauma. CDF-Ohio is working to draw attention to the ways that Ohio children are suffering abuse and harm at the hands of trusted caregivers, and to ensure that no Ohio child has to suffer the impact of abuse or trauma again. We are also working to ensure that children and their families have access to a robust system of screening, diagnosis, and treatment for all mental health conditions as early as possible.

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