Did you know that Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has an Advocacy and Health Policy department? This department’s staff dedicate their time to promoting policies, initiatives and laws that support kids’ health, as well as Children’s ability to provide the best care possible.
As someone who already devotes your personal time to serving the needs of children, you understand the value of volunteerism and the positive difference that it can make in someone else’s (and your own!) life. Advocacy is really an extension of that value because when people speak up for the issues that matter to them, like children’s health, we can have a big impact on the lives of many. Since the concepts of volunteerism and advocacy embody the same core values, we wanted to share more about our advocacy work so you can get involved if you’re interested!
The advocacy team at work
A lot of what the Advocacy team does revolves around local, state and federal government policies. We work to inform policymakers about the most pressing health concerns faced by children in our region, and the value of a health care provider focused exclusively on kids.
For example, one of the public health care programs in Minnesota is called Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and it plays an important role in making sure kids have access to care. In 2011, 430,901 kids were covered through Medical Assistance. As one of Children’s advertising posters states, “Any kid can get sick. Not every kid can afford to.” Because Children’s treats every child seeking care, regardless of ability to pay, the advocacy team works to make sure that Medical Assistance is funded appropriately to meet pediatric health care needs.
We also support programs at the state and federal level that fund education for pediatric students, residents and fellows to develop knowledge in their chosen specialties. Unfortunately, this funding has been threatened in recent years (in 2011, the state-based funds for this work, called MERC, were cut by 50 percent), so in 2013, Children’s will advocate for the preservation of remaining funds and restoration of the cuts.
In the community
The Advocacy and Health Policy team also supports ongoing community work to address some of the public health concerns facing kids today. Childhood obesity is on the rise across the U.S., and Minnesota is no exception. In our recent report, Children’s Check-Up 3: Starting Early to Prevent Childhood Obesity, we discussed the importance of starting early in the fight against obesity.
We also support the work of Vida Sana Minneapolis, a community-based program spearheaded by our own Dr. Julie Boman that provides community-based, culturally-appropriate programming for Latino families to reduce childhood obesity.
You can be a powerful advocate!
We hope that you’ll get involved with this work by signing up to be a part of our Children’s Advocacy Network (click the “Action E-list” link when page loads)—we’ll keep you updated on our work and let you know when you can take action in support of children’s health.
You can also follow the Voice for Kids blog and @childrenspolicy on Twitter. If you have more questions about our work, please contact Katie Rojas-Jahn at Katherine.Rojas-Jahn@childrensmn.org or (612) 813-7111.