Health

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is working to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act (HR.5456/S.3065), a bipartisan bill that would ensure more children can stay safely with family and out of foster care by allowing federal child welfare dollars to be used on preventive mental health, substance abuse, and in-home counseling services to children who are candidates for foster care, as well as their parents or caregivers.

family first actThe bill also encourages the placement of children in foster care in the least restrictive, most family-like settings appropriate to their needs. This positive step would conform to the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommendations listed in a recently released report:

Kids Count Report: Too many children in child welfare are not living in families

“The Family First Prevention Services Act has the potential to have a far-reaching impact in the lives of foster children and youth and their families,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. He commended Senator Hatch “for promoting evidence-based prevention services to keep children in family settings and out of foster care.”

Thank you, Senator Hatch, for your leadership on this issue!

For more information, see this fact sheet:

First Focus Fact Sheet: Family First Prevention Services Act


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog
July 06, 2016

The wait is over!

Spread the word: lawfully residing immigrant kids can enroll in CHIP and Medicaid now!

As of July 1st, 2016, new legislation takes effect that eliminates the previously mandated 5-year waiting period before lawfully-residing immigrant children in Utah could enroll in CHIP and Medicaid. Thank you to the Utah Legislature and the Utah Department of Health for making this change! Five years is too long for a child to wait. More good news: the federal government will match up to 100% of the state dollars Utah spends to remove the 5-year waiting period, making this a fiscally-prudent policy change for Utah. 

Voices for Utah children supported ending the 5-year wait during the 2016 Utah Legislative Session. Utah has the highest rate of uninsured Hispanic children in the nation and the removal of the 5-year wait is a significant step to help all children in Utah access affordable health coverage.

In addition to allowing states to end the 5-year wait for children, the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) gives states the option to expand insurance coverage to lawfully residing pregnant women.  Utah has not yet accepted that option. Going forward, let's end the 5-year wait for pregnant women, too! Prenatal care improves the health of both mothers and their children.

To learn more about CHIP and Medicaid eligibility, call 211 or visit takecareutah.org. (A Spanish version is available at takecareutah.org/es/.)


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog
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In 2007, on the 10th anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and its partners committed to helping ensure that 95% of the nation’s children ages 0 to 18 had health insurance. This year the nation reached this historic goal, according to the Urban Institute’s report: Uninsurance among Children, 1997–2015 : Long-Term Trends and Recent Patterns. The success of CHIP and the expansion of Medicaid in many states were critical for reaching these historic numbers for health insurance coverage.

However, Utah lags the nation, with only 90.6% of Utah children insured. In fact, Utah ranks among the bottom of all states for children’s health insurance coverage and Utah Hispanic children are particularly unlikely to have health insurance. Nationwide, 9.7% of Hispanic children are uninsured but 23.4% of Utah Hispanic children are uninsured.

Children with access to quality, comprehensive health coverage are more likely to attend school and stay focused on learning. Healthier children means parents take fewer days off work to care for a sick child. It also means parents don’t have to choose between paying a medical bill or paying rent.

How can we get more Utah kids covered?

  • medicaid expansion 1Follow through with the work begun at the 2016 Legislature. During the recent session, Utah lawmakers added intent language to end the 5-year wait for lawfully residing immigrant children, agreed to study options to improve enrollment in Medicaid, and allocated funding to Medicaid and CHIP outreach for the first time in years. Let’s finish what we started.
  • Cover the gap. States that fully expanded Medicaid saw more improvement in children’s health insurance coverage than states like Utah. Utah lawmakers chose to leave money on the table in Washington rather than fully cover the gap. Expanding Medicaid would help Utah address Utah’s low enrollment of eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP, as newly eligible adults enroll their whole families.
  • Extend CHIP. CHIP funding is scheduled to end in 2017 despite its overwhelming success.

Now that the goal of getting 95% of children insured has been met nationally, the Packard Foundation has announced a new commitment to reach 98% coverage for our nation’s children. By the time the nation meets this new goal, we hope to be able to say that Utah kids are just as likely to be insured as children across the nation. Let’s catch up now.

PackardFoundation 95 Infographic


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

Last year, we brought you a version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for our legislative overview. For this year’s health policy round-up, we’re relying on another classic Western, The Magnificent Seven, to review the seven main children’s health issues of the session. Not all seven topics made it to the end of the session (much like the gunslingers in the movie). But all of them put up a good fight.

1. Enrolling More Children in CHIP and Medicaid

Utah has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation. We need to take the steps to help children and families enroll–and stay enrolled–in health coverage. There are 85,000 uninsured children in Utah. Even more concerning, the majority of uninsured children in the state are already eligible for health insurance coverage like CHIP or Medicaid but not enrolled.

Fortunately, some important steps were taken this session. The legislature allocated state funding to the Department of Health for CHIP and Medicaid outreach so that more families can learn about their coverage options. In addition, the legislature directed the Department of Health to study some of the barriers to children’s enrollment in CHIP and Medicaid and the fixes needed so more children have coverage. Some of the potential fixes include 12-month continuous eligibility for children on Medicaid, which would allow children to maintain coverage for one full year, even if families experience a change in income or family status. Finally, the legislature removed the five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children to receive CHIP and Medicaid. Immigrant children who would otherwise qualify for CHIP and Medicaid no longer have to wait five years to receive health coverage.

ut leg session shareable 2

2. Health Coverage for Parents

Healthy parents = healthy children. When parents have insurance, they are better able to care for their children. In addition, when parents have coverage they bring their children along too. Enrollment numbers for children go up when parents have health coverage. Unfortunately there are tens of thousands of uninsured parents in Utah today. While the legislature did not close the coverage gap this session, it took important first steps. HB 437 (Rep Dunnigan R-Taylorsville) changed Medicaid eligibility to cover an estimated 3,800 additional parents, effectively raising the eligibility ceiling for parents with children up to 60% of Federal Poverty Level. More robust bills that did not become law, including SB 77 (Sen Gene Davis D-Salt Lake County), would have expanded Medicaid and closed the coverage gap. In addition, the legislature funded Primary Care Access Grants. These grants help many low-income families and individuals, especially in rural areas. These are important steps to take, but we need to continue on until all Utahns have access to comprehensive health coverage.

medicaid expansion 2

3. Reducing Health Disparities

Children of color are more likely to experience poor health outcomes compared to White children. Utah has the highest rate of uninsured Hispanic children in the nation. Hispanic children make up 17% of the population, but they make up 40% of the total uninsured population. As mentioned above, one win for the session was the elimination of the five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children. Legal permanent resident (LPR) children will soon be able to enroll in CHIP or Medicaid as soon as they qualify, without having to wait five years. At the request of the Governor’s budget, the legislature also allocated funding for Family Spirit, a home visiting program specifically for young Native American families in Utah. The program is a culturally-focused and strength-based approach for new parents and their children. These measures move our state in the right direction; but more work is needed. All children, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, should be able to access the care they need to achieve optimal health.

4. Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

The following public health policies were not enacted, although they would have saved the state money and improved children’s health:

Curtailing Youth Tobacco Use: HB 157 (Representative Kraig Powell R-Heber City) would have raised the age limit for tobacco use and HB 333 (Representative Paul Ray R-Clearfield) imposed an e-cigarette tax. These are important steps to prevent rising rates of e-cigarette use among youth in our state. Despite strong support, including active youth advocacy, both of these bills failed in committee.

2016 02 17 09.31.39

Information about Childhood Immunizations: Choosing not to vaccinate your child is a serious decision for one’s child and community. HB 221 (Rep Carol Spackman-Moss D-Salt Lake City) would have required parents who choose not to vaccinate to take a brief online training. The training would inform parents how to recognize the signs and symptoms of disease and learn what to do in the event of a disease outbreak in order to keep their child safe. The bill narrowly passed the House. However in the final days of the session, the Senate made amendments to the bill that undermined its intent. There was not adequate time to resolve these differences and the bill did not pass. As immunization rates in Utah decline, more children are at risk when disease outbreaks occur. This bill highlights the need for continued public health awareness, information and discussion so that all children in Utah can be safe.

Family planning: Representative King sponsored HB 246, Reproductive Health Amendments, that would have provided comprehensive sex education in schools. It also would have allowed more low-income families to receive comprehensive family planning services. This bill would have helped reduce rising rates of sexually transmitted infections by helping more teens make informed choices. However, controversies surrounding sex education kept this bill from advancing out of committee.

5. Services for Children with Special Healthcare Needs

Legislators increased some of the funding for children with special needs. The Baby Watch Early Intervention program received one-time funding to support its critical programs. Legislators including Sen. Luz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City) and advocates worked tirelessly to make sure the programming could continue. As parents can testify, the Baby Watch Early Intervention program allows parents to receive the early support, assessment and coordination of care they need for their children. The legislature also funded additional slots and increased the caseload for the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver in the Medicaid Program. Additionally, in HB 2, the legislature also allocated funding for the children’s hearing aid pilot program account. In the future, more funds are needed for children with special health care needs, but the legislature took important measures to help more children and families.

6. Crisis Nurseries and Home Visiting for Under-Resourced Families

The Utah legislature allocated funding for families in crisis in HB 2. These funds include TANF funding for domestic violence shelters. It also includes some funding for crisis/respite nurseries under contract with the Division of Child and Family Services. Crisis nurseries play a vital role for families experiencing hardship. In addition, the legislature allocated funding to home visiting programs. The two evidence-based programs funded are Family Spirit and Parents as Teachers. Home visiting programs have been shown to improve the long and short term health outcome for new mothers and their children.

7. Maternal Health and Prenatal Services

The legislature considered several bills that address obstetric care for moms, including two bills that addressed midwifery services. HB 184 (Rep Spackman Moss) made technical changes to current midwifery practices. SB 108 (Sen Deirdre Henderson) removed certain restrictions on licensed birth centers to enable expanded services, despite some concerns from the despite some concerns from physician groups. Both HB 184 and SB 108 passed.

HB 246, Reproductive Health Amendments, also included a provision that would expand family planning services for low-income families that do not qualify for Medicaid. Since this bill failed in committee, it was a missed opportunity for the state to apply for a waiver to extend family planning services for women at 138% of Federal Poverty Level. The state would have received an enhanced federal matching rate for such services, making this a cost-effective policy change for the state. In addition, the provision would have helped individuals who fall in the coverage gap receive comprehensive family planning services.

Those are some of the “magnificent” seven health topics from the 2016 legislative session. For more information on any of the issues or bills mentioned, please contact Jessie Mandle. Voices for Utah Children will continue the fight this coming year so that all children in our state can achieve health and wellness.


LUGU Logo 1March 31, 2016 is Love UT Give UT!

It’s a day for Utahns to give to the nonprofits that make Utah special. Every donation to Voices for Utah Children through Love UT Give UT gives Voices a chance to win matching grants and prizes.

And you don't have to wait!  Donate now at http://bit.ly/loveUTchildren.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog
Tagged under

love utah give utah CHIP 2


LUGU Logo 1March 31, 2016 is Love UT Give UT!

It’s a day for Utahns to give to the nonprofits that make Utah special. Every donation to Voices for Utah Children through Love UT Give UT gives Voices a chance to win matching grants and prizes.

And you don't have to wait!  Donate now at http://bit.ly/loveUTchildren.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

young girl sits at dead horse point smallIt is widely agreed that rural communities have a different set of issues than more urban communities. While all low-income families, regardless of where they live, need connections to support programs and access to economic opportunities, strategies that work in urban areas often cannot be applied to rural areas where social and economic programs are few and far between.

Because access to services is such an important issue in Utah’s rural areas, it is imperative that policymakers and service providers have a clear view of the problems facing rural communities. In Voices for Utah Children’s annual publication Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah, a variety of child well-being indicators are presented at the county level. These indicators cover important milestones in areas such as economic security, education, and health.

This edition of Data Links explores several of the indicators annually presented in Measures to see how much or if child well-being differs in rural communities as compared to urban communities.

 

DEFINING URBAN AND RURAL

geographic breakdown of countiesThere are a myriad of definitions for “urban” and “rural” from a variety of sources. For the purposes of this report we have chosen to use three categories based on the American Community Survey’s three breakdowns for the one year, three year and five year estimates:

Urban Areas - Areas with populations of 65,000+
Urban/Rural - Areas with populations of 64,999 to 20,000
Rural Areas - Areas of population 20,000 and under
Counties included in each area are indicated in the box to the right.

Utah measures of child well being by urban rural urban three young kids at birthday party cropped horizontal

Utah Total Population

CONCLUSION

This data brief started out by saying it is widely agreed that rural communities have a different set of issues than urban communities. Access to services is difficult for a variety of reasons including lack of transportation and a lack of service providers. When there are no providers in town and individuals must wait on availability, scheduling can become a problem. In some cases where an individual has no family leave policy, traveling to a provider can mean missed wages. Child well-being indicators for children in rural Utah are, in general, slightly worse than those in urban areas. This makes all the above issues even more pressing and an area of concern that needs to be addressed.

“In urban areas, questions of access to care often revolve around whether all segments of the population have access to the full range of specialized medical centers serving the metropolitan area. In rural areas, the issue is often whether there are any health care facilities and providers to access at all. Large metropolitan counties have nearly four times as many physicians per 100,000 residents as do rural counties with only small towns."
Demographic Trends in Rural and Small Town America KENNETH JOHNSON, Carsey Institute Reports on Rural America 01/2006

Printer-friendly report:

pdfA Tale of Two Utahs: How do Urban and Rural Utah Measure Up?

(Sources and definitions are available in the printer-friendly version of this report.)


LUGU Logo 1March 31, 2016 is Love UT Give UT!

It’s a day for Utahns to give to the nonprofits that make Utah special. Every donation to Voices for Utah Children through Love UT Give UT gives Voices a chance to win matching grants and prizes.

And you don't have to wait!  Donate now at http://bit.ly/loveUTchildren.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

childrens budget cover UtahCBReport2015

Why a “Children’s Budget”?

Children, it is often said, are Utah’s most precious resource. They represent the workforce, consumers, and leaders of tomorrow. For that reason, the investments we make in our children today have enormous economic and social implications for Utah’s future. That is why our federal, state, and local units of government pool taxpayers’ resources to establish an education system, provide for the health and other basic needs of our most vulnerable children, and intervene in children’s lives when their safety is at risk.

This report, Children’s Budget 2015, examines public investment in children from FY2008 through FY2014. It is an update of earlier reports by Voices for Utah Children published in 2009 and 2011. This report does not assess the effectiveness of these programs or gaps in services. Rather, it objectively quantifies the level of public funding for children in Utah and identifies trends over the seven-year period.

There is a strong case to be made that no one cares more about kids than Utahns. Utah has the highest fertility rate in the country and the most children as a percentage of its population, 31% vs. 24% for the nation . Utah saw the second fastest growth rate in its child population of any state from 2000 to 2010 , second only to Nevada (which grows mostly by in-migration rather than through births). Given the high priority Utahns place on children, understanding how much is spent on children by the state and for what purposes is critically important for policymakers and the general public.

Information on funding for children is important for several reasons. It can:

1. Assist policymakers in assessing whether their funding decisions reflect, in the aggregate, their priorities with respect to children.

2. Illustrate how specific programs compare with spending on children overall.

3. Aid policymakers in examining how much is spent on children for specific purposes (i.e. for early education or child welfare) or how funding for children compares to total state and federal spending in the state.

Examining how much Utah invests in children can help the state evaluate how efficiently it is enhancing the potential of our future workforce and maximizing our investment in human capital and economic development. Public investment in children in Utah should be understood as an important component of our economic development strategy that impacts the state as a whole, both in the present and the future.

In this report, Voices for Utah Children divides all state programs concerning children into seven categories, without regard to their location within the structure of state government. The seven categories are as follows, in descending order by dollar value (based on the sums of both state and federal funds):

• Education, which makes up 90% of the state-funded portion of the Children’s Budget and 77% overall counting both state and federal funds

• Health

• Food and Nutrition

• Early Childhood Education

• Child Welfare 

• Juvenile Justice

• Income Support

We then add up the expenditures in each of these areas, separating state from federal dollars, and we compare the figures over time from FY2008, the last year before the state budget began to be affected by the Great Recession, through FY2014, the most recent year for which final expenditure data was available. 

Our most important finding is the following: 

While the state economy has recovered from the Great Recession in a number of respects, state investment in children has not.  Specifically, real (inflation-adjusted) state investment in children in FY2014 remained 6% below what it had been in FY2008, at $5,424 per child in FY2014, compared to $5,746 in FY2008. 

Making up that $322 per-child gap between the FY2008 level of public investment in children and the level in FY2014 would have required an additional state expenditure in FY2014 of approximately $293 million. 

This finding that state government investment in children has not yet recovered from the recession is not the only example of how Utah still remains below its pre-recession performance, even five years after the recession ended.  For example, real median wages also remain below pre-recession levels and poverty rates have remained elevated well above where they were at the same point in previous economic expansions.  

For more information, see the complete report:

Utah Children's Budget Report 2015

 

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities. How can you be involved?

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog