News from NIHCM
Upcoming Webinar! NIHCM Foundation will host a webinar on July 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM (EDT) to discuss the importance of safe, affordable housing for children and families. Children who experience homelessness or insecure, unsafe housing suffer significantly worse health outcomes than other children. Presenters include Natalie Coupe, Policy Director, Campaign to End Child Homelessness, The National Center on Family Homelessness; Barbara Dipietro, Director of Policy, National Health Care for the Homeless Council; Jocelyn Ancheta, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation; Patrick O’Sullivan, Executive Director, Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas; and Jennifer Ho, Deputy Director, US Interagency Council on Homelessness. Register for this webinar.
NIHCM recently published a new issue brief, "Health Plan Approaches to Preconception Health." Despite evidence and recommendations on the importance of preconception health, millions of women do not currently receive adequate preconception care. This brief outlines the innovative ways health plans and their foundations are reaching women of childbearing age, and it suggests strategies for direct and cost-effective outreach programs to promote preconception care.
NIHCM Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of a new grant program to support investigator-initiated health services research. Up to $100,000 will be available to fund one to three projects in 2013. Required letters of inquiry are now being accepted and must be received by August 15, 2012. Full 10-page proposals will be invited from a small number of applicants. For more information, visit the research grants section of our website.
Summaries of Recent MCH News
Promising Practices in MCH
NIHCM recently published two new fact sheets in our Promising Practices in Maternal and Child Health series, which emphasizes collaborative partnerships between health plans and others in the MCH community. “Preventing Bullying in Schools Through Partnerships” highlighted the Highmark Foundation’s efforts to create a coalition of experts to implement the largest statewide bullying prevention initiative in the country. NIHCM also hosted a webinar on this topic highlighting new data on the cost effectiveness of bullying prevention. “Leveraging Human Capital to Promote Youth Empowerment: the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts-Crossroads for Kids Partnership” discussed the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts corporate volunteer programs and the health plan’s unique partnership with a local non-profit, Crossroads for Kids.
We continue to update our Promising Practices in Maternal & Child Health searchable database, a collection of emerging and promising health plan programs and collaborations. This database allows you to learn more about the MCH activities and priorities of health plans and foundations from across the country with a goal of facilitating program replication and fostering new collaborations between health plans and other MCH stakeholders, especially those working in communities and in the public sector. We invite you to submit your public-private partnership success stories for inclusion in the Promising Practices in MCH database.
We are always looking to improve our work—please provide feedback about the database or our fact sheets to
Health Plan Initiatives to Improve MCH
Florida Blue and the Florida Literacy Coalition have been partnering to promote health literacy through the Florida Health Literacy Initiative. The initiative provides training, resources and $5,000 grants to integrate health education into ESOL and other family literacy programs throughout Florida. The initiative webpage includes a list of the 18 most recent grantees, 2011 program data and curriculum information.
WellPoint Foundation Executive Director Lance Chrisman was recently interviewed by Leaders Magazine about the foundation’s Healthy Generations program, which funds projects focused on childhood obesity, prenatal health, immunization, smoking cessation and chronic disease. Chrisman called Healthy Generations a “dynamic model” that prioritizes project tracking, measurement of impact and responding to the changing needs of the community.
The Highmark Foundation has released the results of its five-year, $100 million initiative to improve children’s health in Pennsylvania, Highmark Healthy High 5. The initiative focused on nutrition, physical activity, bullying prevention, grieving and self-esteem, and reached kids across 49 counties. The five-year initiative report describes the key programs, the strategies employed and the lessons learned.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has awarded a $1.2 million grant to expand a state run farm to school program, NC Farm to School, which supplies school cafeterias with fresh, locally grown produce. The grant will provide five new refrigerated trucks so that 35 additional school systems can participate in the program, and it will also fund a three-year marketing initiative to teach children about growing healthy food and to raise the profile of the program.
The Wellmark Foundation has awarded more than $400,000 in grants to three programs that support community gardens and teach children healthy behaviors: the People’s Garden School Pilot Program, a gardening nutrition education project sponsored by the USDA; Immersion in Wellness, an experiential health education program for youth; and the Iowa Food Gardening Messaging Initiative, which encourages Iowans receiving nutrition assistance to get involved in gardening.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey recently awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to 19 health and arts organizations. Funded projects include a reproductive health center’s health literacy program for young women, a school tour of a musical on obesity and wellness, a local counseling center’s childhood depression services, the Healthy U Part 2 childhood obesity prevention initiative, and depression screening for child victims of sexual abuse through a crisis intervention program.
WellPoint’s childhood obesity initiative, Promoting Healthier Lifestyles, has been named the winner of the 2011-2012 Innovation Award for overall best Medicaid health plan practice by Medicaid Health Plans of America’s Center for Best Practices. The initiative was recognized for developing resources and standards for obesity screening, prevention and management; for fostering numerous public-private partnerships; and for improving obesity-related quality outcomes.
The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation awarded an $84,700 grant to The Dorchester Children’s Center to support the center’s Direct Clinical Services Program. This program offers community-coordinated, evidence-based treatment for victims of child abuse and their families. The award is part of the foundation’s most recent round of grants, which also includes funding for a clinic for pregnant youth, dental care for uninsured children, and women’s mental health services.
Empire BlueCross BlueShield is embarking on a year-long study to see if community-based physician practices can effectively use a structured diet program to help overweight children drop pounds and maintain a healthier weight. The study, Pediatric Weight Activity Management or P-WAM!, will recruit 240 8-to-12 year olds in New York City to participate in a program that uses traffic light colors to teach children to select healthy foods in pre-determined portions.
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently sponsored two family-friendly dance parties aimed at teaching the community fun ways to stay healthy and fit. Dance and Discover, held at the Museum of Discovery, featured a children’s wellness activity and plenty of dancing courtesy of Radio Disney. Eat. Plant. Dance. Salsa! included lessons on gardening salsa ingredients, putting them together for a healthy snack and, of course, salsa dancing.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has developed two free smart phone apps for kids that reinforce the importance of nutrition and fitness. “Image Hunt,” a find-the-difference game, and “Healthy Memory,” a matching game, feature images of healthy foods and reward correct responses with important health messages. Both games are available from the iPhone Store and Android Market.
The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded 23 $1,000 mini-grants for initiatives to improve the health of state residents. Grantees include nutrition and parenting classes, a girls’ empowerment project on substance abuse, tumbling classes for underprivileged kids, and a chair-free classrooms project at a local school.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has announced the 11 finalists for the 2012 Health Innovation Challenge, which offers funding for innovative ideas to reduce the obesity rate in North Carolina. Finalists include a company that installs filtered, vitamin-infused water dispensers in schools; a program enabling students to listen to lessons while getting some exercise; and an interactive website that lets kids rack up points for being active. The winners will be selected in September.
The Maternal and Child Health Bureau has been actively loading new content onto its MCH Navigator website. This educational clearinghouse presents an array of external MCH professional development opportunities in groupings that match visitor needs to available resources. All of the training resources listed on the website are free or low-cost, web-based, short-term and selected for inclusion by MCHB staff and expert partners.
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has published the findings from their 2011 survey of state trends in health care coverage for women and children. Highlights from “2011 Maternal and Child Health Update: The Beginnings of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Implementation—Moving Towards Improving Health Outcomes” include a growing state interest in medical home models and a readiness to incorporate new programs developed under the ACA into the existing MCH infrastructure.
The National Association of County & City Health Officials recently hosted a webinar on environmental public health tracking and children’s health in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Presenters talked about the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network and showed how local health agencies have used environmental health tracking to reduce children’s asthma emergencies and to target areas with high risk for elevated blood lead levels.
The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) has released an issue brief entitled “Using The Community Guide to Improve Preconception Health Efforts.” This brief outlines evidence-based preconception health recommendations from the Community Preventive Services Task Force, such as folic acid use and obesity control. The brief was released in conjunction with a webinar on the same topic, “Using Evidence to Inform Preconception Health Initiatives.”
AMCHP will also host a webinar on July 10th highlighting recommendations for improving childhood obesity prevention and featuring a state that has employed evidence-based interventions. The event, “Using Evidence to Inform Efforts to Confront Childhood Obesity,” is now open for registration and will be accompanied by an issue brief summarizing the recommendations.
AMCHP and CityMatCH released a new Women’s Health Prevention Brief, The Built Environment. The brief examines the impact of working and housing situations on women’s health and birth outcomes, and it looks at state and local programs that are making promising interventions to ensure a supportive built environment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education collaborated to create an important resource for preventing SIDS and infant suffocation. The document, “Safe Sleep Practices and SIDS/Suffocation Risk Reduction,” is a summary of national standards on infant sleep practices and related issues drawn from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards—Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs.
Family Voices has released several new one-pagers for families. These easy-to-read, themed guides offer wellness tips and resources on a range of topics, including child development, mental health, sexuality, nutrition, physical activity and oral health. Regular releases of new one-pagers are expected throughout the year—stay up-to-date by following the new Family Voices Twitter and Facebook accounts.
AMCHP has launched a virtual State Life Course Resource Center, which houses tools, best practices and research to support integration of the life course model into state MCH programs. Resources currently available include educational materials on preconception health, prenatal care, young adult health and health equity, as well as life course publications, presentations and tools for states. AMCHP will continue to update the website as new resources emerge.