In 2018, Community Catalyst created our Top Five Health Equity Priorities for Kids to provide a blueprint for targeted advocacy. This blueprint focused on safeguarding health care access, pursuing innovation models that address the needs of the whole family and prioritizing prevention services for children experiencing trauma. In partnership with state and local advocates, we centered the health of children and families as we worked to protect and extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program and defend and strengthen the ACA and Medicaid. We placed a particular focus on advancing state-level efforts to expand Medicaid services in schools and ensuring that the role and impact of trauma on families’ health was integrated into all our work.

As we enter 2019, these priorities remain the building blocks for our health equity agenda, which will see an increased focus on the intersection of mental health and trauma. More than ever, we know that brain science should guide our policy work and movement building. We know that early intervention is imperative and that children cannot thrive without support from caregivers who are also in good health.

Here are a few things for advocates to consider as they pursue their 2019 agendas:

  • Safeguard children’s coverage. Beginning in October, the state share of CHIP costs will start returning to the traditional levels passed by Congress when the program was created. Advocates should ensure their state is ready, willing and able to protect CHIP during this expected reduction in federal match. See here.
  • Lift up the issue of trauma. Trauma continues to affect families across the country. Advocates can play key roles in awareness campaigns, community building and creating policy shifts that secure needed access to health benefits. Learn more here about how trauma affects individuals and families.
  • Focus on mental health. Children’s mental health and that of their caregivers is closely tied to their overall well-being. Children confronting mental health issues are more complex when those children also experience trauma like living in poverty or witnessing parental substance misuse. Numerous states are working to address mental health workforce shortages and gaps in coverage while also integrating behavioral health care into primary care using a range of models. Learn more here.

Over the coming months, we will explore how states, health systems and providers are addressing some of these key challenges and how health advocates can influence policy and practice to improve the health and wellness of families. We are here to learn, support, collaborate and listen to what advocates and communities need.