Leveraging Medicaid & CHIP programs to Optimize Early Learning Development - Early Learning Nation

Leveraging Medicaid & CHIP programs to Optimize Early Learning Development

Don't Miss Webinar: June 26

Two organizations that advocate for the social and emotional development of young children are holding a webinar to promote a “blueprint” they say can be used to leverage the Medicaid and CHIP health programs to advance such development.

According to Manatt and the center, nearly half of children under age 3 in the United States get their health insurance through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Medicaid, which was created in 1965, is health coverage for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.

CHIP, created in 1997, provides health coverage to eligible children, through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. It is intended to cover children who aren’t eligible for Medicaid but can’t afford private health coverage.

Both programs are federally and state funded and are administered by the states.

Combined, they cover more than 72 million people, including 35 million children.

They describe the rationale for the initiative this way:

“A child’s brain is developing at an unparalleled pace during the first three years of life. This is an extremely sensitive period, during which the factors that influence social and emotional health—including a strong parent-child relationship, nurturing interactions between parent and child, and safe and stable living conditions—can have important and enduring consequences.

“Given that early social and emotional health contributes to a child’s lifelong prospects for physical and behavioral health, school success, and productivity, it is critical to make social and emotional health interventions a routine part of pediatric care.”

The one-hour webinar is called: “How Can Medicaid and CHIP Support Children’s Emotional Health?” Registration is required to join the event, which is at 2 p.m. Eastern on June 26.

The webinar is sponsored by Manatt Health, a legal and consulting firm; and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a nonprofit that uses “community action, public system reform and policy change” to work for children and families.

The blueprint was funded by the Pediatrics Supporting Parents initiative of the non-profit National Institute for Health Quality.

The 58-page plan, released this month, describes five strategies that state Medicaid and CHIP agencies, managed care plans, pediatric care providers and others can use to “optimize the social and emotional development of young children through pediatric practice”:

  1. Cover and support a full range of screening, assessment and treatment services for children and their parents. “States have broad flexibility to emphasize benefits and policy strategies that support children’s social and emotional development.”
  2. Leverage quality and performance improvement initiatives to spur changes in pediatric practice. For example, states “can require reporting on measures related to social and emotional health.”
  3. Establish payment models that support and incentivize a focus on the social and emotional development of children. For example, states can offer financial incentives to health plans and providers to focus on children’s social and emotional development.
  4. Facilitate investment in team-based care and training on children’s social and emotional development. For example, states can support the use of team-based care to “make it more feasible for pediatric practices to connect families to public benefits and community resources.”
  5. Leverage a CHIP Health Services Initiative to finance interventions aimed at supporting children’s social and emotional development. For example, states can use CHIP administrative funds for interventions such as addressing exposure to violence, promoting lead screening and abatement, and training providers on practices that strengthen the parent-child relationship.

The blueprint also describes actions for implementing the strategies.

What social and emotional development looks like, according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health:

Birth to 12 months
Able to calm self-down or self-quiet for short periods
Expresses needs by crying
Smiles spontaneously to main caregiver’s voice, face and smile
Enjoys being cuddled
Responds to their name
Shows emotions of frustration, surprise and interest
Responds happily to play interactions with others

12 to 36 months
Begin to follow rules
Temper tantrums are common
Enjoy playing by themselves or beside other children
Defend their own possessions
Beginning to become independent and will be testing their limits
Expressing new emotions such as jealousy, affection, pride and shame
Routines are very important
May start to comfort other children
Begin to initiate activities
Beginning to actively resist discipline

3 to 5 years
Enjoys pretend play with other children
Beginning to learn to share
Demonstrates improved turn-taking
Needs clear and consistent rules
Needs to be encouraged to express their feelings with words
Beginning to take responsibility for actions
Friends are more interesting than adults
Has some ability to recognize and understand the feelings of others


Blueprint: “Fostering Social and Emotional Health through Pediatric Primary Care: A Blueprint for Leveraging Medicaid and CHIP to Finance Change”

Milwaukee journalist Tom Kertscher was a 35-year newspaper reporter, finishing that career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now a freelance writer, his work includes fact-checking for PolitiFact and sports reporting for the Associated Press. His reporting on Steven Avery was featured in Making a Murderer. Kertscher is the author of sports books on Brett Favre and Al McGuire. Follow him at TomKertscher.com and on Twitter: @KertscherNews and @KertscherSports.

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