Many of you may recall that the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) authorized childhood obesity demonstration grants aimed at developing an effective model for reducing obesity in children. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, $25 million in funding was made available for these grants. With this funding now available, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released the funding opportunity announcement to solicit applications.

The goal of the CHIPRA childhood obesity demonstration grants is to determine whether an integrated model of primary care and public health approaches can improve underserved children’s risk factors for obesity. These approaches may include policy, systems, and environmental supports that encourage nutrition and physical activity for children and their families.

HHS plans to award only three grants; each will be approximately $6.25 million spread out over a four year period. HHS will also make a separate award of approximately $4.25 million to an evaluation center to assess the success of the three demonstration projects.

A call and webcast for prospective applicants will be held on February 16, 2011 from 4:00 P.M. to 5:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. The call-in information is as follows:

Call-In Number: (888) 843-9981 Passcode: 3004616

For additional information about the call and webcast, please see the funding opportunity announcement. Optional (but encouraged) letters of intent are due by February 22, 2011 with the final application due on April 8, 2011.

Here at the New England Alliance for Children’s Health, an initiative of Community Catalyst, we find this type of approach to the childhood obesity epidemic to be very exciting because we believe it will be an important step toward what our partners at the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) have called “the system framework for addressing obesity” that includes changing “the policy environment, at both the societal and organizational levels.” This type of a framework will allow the childhood obesity epidemic to be addressed from multiple angles to ensure that progress will be made.

—Patrick M. Tigue, Children’s Health Care Coordinator New England Alliance for Children’s Health