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C H I L D R E N ’ S H E A LT H F U N D WINTER 2014

The Gift of a Smile Partnerships that mean good oral health for kids in need.


Aleidy wants the same care for Hailey and Jake that she got as a young girl.

Caring for the Next Generation


Our great medical care helped Aleidy Soriano succeed in life. Now she wants the same for her family. When she arrived in New York City from the Dominican Republic at the age of 9, Aleidy Soriano and her two sisters needed physicals so they could enroll in school. Like many immigrants, she and her family didn’t speak English well, didn’t have much money, and were not yet documented residents—so they weren’t sure where to go for medical care. Fortunately, a member of their church told

ore than 22% of children ages 6-18 suffer from untreated tooth decay. That means not only pain and discomfort for kids, but missed school days as well. One study shows that low-income high school students in Los Angeles who had toothaches were six times more likely to miss school than those without. Children living in poverty are especially vulnerable. In fact, 11% of children who had limited access to dental care missed school due to poor oral health, as opposed to only 4% of kids who had easier access to a dentist. For kids from low-income families, Children’s Health Fund is on the front lines in the battle against tooth decay. In New York City, for example, a mobile dental clinic sponsored by MetLife Foundation offers oral exams, cleanings, fillings, and referrals to specialists without regard to a family’s ability to pay. This February, our dental patients in New York City got a special boost to their dental health thanks to ColgatePalmolive, which donated 2000 dental health kits as part of National Dental Health Month. Colgate-Palmolive also donated a $1.00 for every photo uploaded to Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #StartWithASmile (through March 15) to help more kids across America be healthy and ready to learn.

Aleidy’s mother about the Children’s Health Fund clinic in the South Bronx. “I still remember that first day,” said Aleidy. “When we walked into the clinic, they spoke our language and made us feel right at home.” After her sister was diagnosed with a serious condition that doctors in the Dominican Republic had missed, the South Bronx Health Center became the medical home for all three young girls. About a year later, Aleidy CONTINUED ON PAGE 2


A word from the President

Hailey and Jake are on the road to a healthy future. See more of their family’s story here:


ll across America, four-year-olds are in the spotlight. From Capitol Hill to academia, leaders are calling for our nation to invest in universal pre-kindergarten. In his last two State of the Union addresses, President Obama has emphasized the need for all the nation’s children to have access to early-childhood education. Meanwhile, the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has made universal pre-K a focus of his administration. And New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is ringing the same bell, calling for pre-K throughout the state. I couldn’t agree more with the value of high-quality pre-K. But success in pre-kindergarten programs—and success in school at all levels—is dependent on many factors, including the identification and management of health-related problems that can interfere with development and learning. In fact, I believe that every child entering a pre-K program should be screened for health conditions like uncontrolled asthma, poor vision, inadequate nutrition, and other health barriers to learning—before they can do lasting damage. In our study recently published in the journal, SAGE Open, we found that New York City school principals see health conditions impeding kids every day. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be healthy and ready to learn, especially low-income kids who already face myriad challenges. For decades, communities have been insufficiently focused on how to screen for and manage the health problems that can undermine a good education. As a nation, we need to do better. That’s the idea behind our new “Healthy and Ready to Learn” initiative. We’ve brought Dr. Charles Basch of Columbia University Teachers College on board to help guide it (see article in this newsletter). Dr. Basch is one of the nation’s leading experts on the impact of health barriers to learning, and we are fortunate to have him on our team as we set out to redefine the relationship between good health and school success. We appreciate your continued support.

Irwin Redlener, MD


herself was diagnosed with a heart condition that required regular monitoring and treatment throughout her adolescence. Thanks in great part to the care she received from Children’s Health Fund—including referrals to a cardiologist at Montefiore Medical Center—Aleidy was able to stay in school and graduate. Today, Aleidy’s life looks much different than it did when her family first came to America. Married and living in Manhattan, she has health insurance and many options for care. But when it comes to medical care for her two young children—Hailey and Jake—she still travels to the South Bronx. “Sometimes when you go to a doctor, it seems like just business,” Aleidy said. “But at the Children’s Health Fund clinic, it’s like family. There’s so much love there.” “That Aleidy brings her kids all the way to the South Bronx Health Center— even though she doesn’t have to—really reflects the high quality of care we give them,” said Dr. Hildred Machuca, who has been caring for the Soriano children since they were born. “And it motivates me to do the work I do every day in this community.”

By the numbers

20% of kids suffer visual problems

18% of kids from poor families have been diagnosed with asthma

2 3 OUT OF

kids don’t get enough physical activity



Q & A with Chuck Basch, PhD

Taking on Health Barriers to Learning Charles Basch views poverty, education and health as all part of a single equation.

Dr. Charles Basch is out to break down the walls between education and health care. Professor of Health and Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, he has spent years exploring the connection between student health and educational achievement and has come to see them as two sides of the same coin. Chuck, as his colleagues know him, recently joined Children’s Health Fund to help design our new Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative. We sat down with him to get a better understanding of how health problems can impede a child’s progress in school. We hear so much about the “education crisis.” Are you saying that part of the solution to that crisis is health care? Exactly. No matter how effectively a teacher can teach, no

matter how rigorous curricula may be, no matter how schools are organized—all of those efforts will be jeopardized if students aren’t motivated and able to learn. And there are health barriers to learning that have powerful but largely overlooked effects on students’ motivation and ability to learn. What are the factors you’ve found to be most relevant to a child’s performance in school? Key health barriers to learning include medical challen­ ges like poor vision, asthma, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and also issues like aggression or violence in the school environment, a lack of physical activity, and hunger from starting the day without breakfast. All of these issues relate to either physical or emotional health and can have a powerful effect on educational outcomes. It seems like common sense that when students can’t see well or have trouble breathing from asthma that they won’t do as well in school. It definitely is. If you can’t see the blackboard, obviously

you’re going to struggle to do well in class. But it is astonishing how many children in school don’t have the glasses they need. And recent research has shown how these other health factors have powerful impacts on cognition, school connectedness, and attendance. We need a more comprehensive approach to ensure that kids are healthy and ready to learn. What role can an organization like Children’s Health Fund play? Because Children’s Health Fund has such extensive experience providing primary health care to children at schools in low-income communities across the country, it is uniquely capable of connecting the dots between health and education in the real world. The health care professionals who work on the mobile clinics are on the frontlines, and they have a wealth of knowledge about how to effectively work with schools and break down the silos between education and health care. So I’m really excited to be part of this initiative because we are in a great position to help educators and


policymakers understand these connections and develop effective programs designed to help students—especially vulnerable kids—overcome the health barriers to learning. So what steps are you looking to take now? We are designing the initiative and fundraising so that we can implement some pilot programs with elementary schools here in New York City that will bring together a strategic focus, high-quality programs and services, and effective coordination among educators, health care professionals, and, of course, families. And my hope is that we can create some successful models and then demonstrate their value to policymakers. We are also going to study the successful interventions that Children’s Health Fund projects have developed across the country and harvest those best practices. So stay tuned. We’re gearing up for some groundbreaking work in the months ahead.

C H I L D R E N ’ S H E A LT H F U N D




PERMIT #1550

NEW YORK, NY 10027


Health to the Head of the Class

The Gift of a Smile

Kids Grow Up

We Couldn’t Do It Without You Asthma accounts for over 10 million lost school days each year. To help Detroit kids breathe easier, Molina Healthcare is supporting the Detroit Children’s Health Project’s new asthma treatment program to help kids better manage their conditions so they can focus on learning, not struggling to breathe, in school.

For the Long Run Keeping kids healthy takes tenacity. No one knows this better than the John F. Kidde Fund for Basic Human Needs, which has stalwartly supported Children’s Health Fund for 20 years. Kay Kidde (pictured inset) and her family, have provided vital assistance to our New York City Homeless Program, placing a special emphasis on nutrition education programs like the one seen here at a South Bronx homeless shelter. We would like to thank the Kidde family and congratulate Kay for decades of dedication to New York City’s most vulnerable children.

In the South Bronx, one of the nation’s poorest congressional districts, health indicators are improving for kids served by the Children’s Health Fund’s New York Flagship Program. Children who receive regular care at our South Bronx Health Center, for example, are less likely to go to the emergency department or be hospitalized for asthma than their peers in the surrounding

community. Renewed support from the Starr International Foundation and Hess helps us bring comprehensive care to even more New York City children, giving lowincome and homeless kids a better shot at life.

More than a year after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, many families are still rebuilding their homes, communities and lives. In hardhit South Brooklyn, hundreds of children and adults continue to receive needed mental health and resiliency services from Children’s Health Fund’s on-site providers. Support from AmeriCares, American Red Cross and public grants will enable us to continue this important effort through the 2013-2014 academic year.

Children's Health Fund Impact Newsletter  

Winter 2014 edition of Children's Health Fund's periodic newsletter about the work that is helping vulnerable kids stay healthy and ready to...

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