Children's Health

The Children's Defense Fund-New York office was the driving force behind raising the Child Health Plus eligibility level to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and responsible for streamlining the Medicaid application process, making public health insurance options more accessible to thousands of children and families in New York State. We also advocate for increased access to healthcare via school-based health centers, with a particular focus on reducing health issues that disproportionately impact low-income and youth of color, including obesity, behavioral health, teen pregnancy and asthma.

School-based health centers (SBHCs) and school-based mental health centers (SBMHCs) are critical lifelines that bring much-needed care to low-income children. These facilities, often the first and only places in which underserved children are able to access medical care, improve both educational and health outcomes for youth.

While experts have recommended that these services be expanded to all schools, recently-enacted New York State policies have worried providers on how such facilities can remain financially solvent. Children’s Defense Fund has created a series of recommendations to not only keep existing SBHCs and SBMHCs providing life-saving care, but also to help expand the school-based health care infrastructure in New York City.

To learn more about these recommendations, you can view the webinar presentation, School-Based Health Care in New York City and State: Sustainability, Growth, and Standardization

School-Based Health

New York City educates 1.1 million students across approximately 1,800 schools in the five boroughs. These students experience a vast array of health care needs. While the primary mission of schools is to educate children so they can go on and lead successful lives, that goal cannot be reached if their health needs are unmet.

Currently in New York City, all children receive, or have access to, some basic services in schools from nurses and other health care professionals through the Office of School Health. Still other students receive a greater range of primary and preventive services—varying by site—from school-based health centers. As the capacity for health care delivery in schools increases, significant opportunities exist to better connect schools to the larger health care infrastructure that works to secure children’s health and wellness—particularly in the areas of obesity, behavioral health, teen pregnancy and asthma.

Learn more about school health and school-based health centers in New York City and State.

Health + Education = Opportunity: An Equation that Works

This report describes the current school health delivery system in the five boroughs and offers a vision for sustaining and expanding our multifaceted model of health care delivery in schools. It was produced with financial support from the Altman Foundation.

CDF-NY Testimony at September 2014 Immigration Committee Hearing on Unaccompanied Minors

1 Testimony of the Chil dren’s Defense Fund – New York “Crisis of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: What is New York City Doing?” Before the Committee s on Immigration , and Courts and Legal Services

Health Insurance Coverage

The promise of health care reform has not been realized fully in New York State, particularly in the extension of health coverage to low- and moderate-income children. Statewide, children lack insurance coverage and sufficient access to quality care in their communities. Among the most serious barriers is the lack of culturally and linguistically competent healthcare for immigrant children and children of color.

There are more than 180,000 children statewide without health insurance, which puts New York in sixth place in terms of states with the highest number of uninsured children2. Historically, most of these children have been eligible for coverage through either Medicaid or Child Health Plus, but are not enrolled due to either a lack of awareness or insurmountable bureaucratic and administrative barriers2. The following are examples of everyday obstacles people face:

Children of immigrant parents may not receive care for which they are eligible due to a language difference between their parents and the healthcare provider. Foster children are automatically dropped from their health insurance plan once they turn 18, leaving them without coverage.

Our goal is to ensure children have access to insurance coverage and a prevalent supply of access points for quality primary and specialty care in their local communities. We have made progress by helping to make insurance options more accessible and facilitating enrollment. Working with our allies, CDF-NY helped established a consumer-friendly, state-based health insurance marketplace that enrolled over 100,000 previously uninsured New York children.

Mental Health

CDF-NY has adopted a holistic health agenda by advocating for healthcare services that meet both the physical and mental health needs of children. However, mental health services are not always accessible. In New York City, only 16,000 of an estimated 360,000 children with a diagnosable mental health condition are receiving services in the City’s mental health system4. Even when mental health care can be obtained, the services might not provide the child with the comprehensive care they need. For example, with the implementation of managed care plans, especially through public insurance policies such as Medicaid, mental health providers are only reimbursed for certain services and for a fixed amount of services per person, which leaves little room to account for and tend to individual patient needs5.

Such gaps in mental health care are especially detrimental to children from lower income areas, who are more susceptible to behavioral or emotional issues and whose families have more difficulty finding local providers that offer comprehensive, quality services6. In order to close this gap, CDF-NY has partnered with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Health Justice Program in order to research mental health services in areas serving vulnerable children. In addition, we are internally coordinating with our Juvenile Justice and Education departments to analyze the intersection between mental health services and the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.

Publications, Testimony & Resources

CHIP Social Media Messages

Help us amplify our message! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to share, like and tweet to help disseminate the most up-to-date news on CHIP!

September 19, 2017

Children and Payment and Delivery System Reform in New York State

This policy brief provides an examination of New York’s recent efforts to transform the state’s expensive, inefficient, and ineffective health care system into one that achieves the triple aim of health care reform – increased quality of care, improved population health, and decrease per-capita costs of care.

May 31, 2016

UAC Panel Presentations April 30 2015

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

April 30, 2015

Health Reform Toolkit TOC

How to use this toolkit Summary and Overview The Exchange In 2014, every state will have a health insuranc e exchange, a marketplac e for individuals and small businesses to purc hase health insurance.

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Private Insurance

Private Health Insurance Whether you have coverage through your employer, purchase health insurance on the private market, or plan to purchase health insurance through the new state Exchange, the health reform law makes sure health insurers provide coverage in the best interest of consumers.

January 1, 2011

Youth and Community Justice Tool-Kit

Policy failures in these area have long-term effects on youth and communities. However, youth and community voices are often missing at decision making tables. We firmly believe that those who are most affected by policy successes or failures are the best advocates for change in our communities. Recognizing the proverbial “full plates” that educators must balance, we compiled this Youth and Community Justice Tool-kit to offer educators easily-accessible information and interactive ways to teach it to their young people.

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Exchange

n 2014, each state will have a Health Insurance Exchange, a marketplace where individuals and employers can pur chase coverage. States have two options: (1) to create one exchange where both individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage, or (2) set up two separate exchanges, one for individuals and one for small businesses. Details about setting up the Exchange will be decided by the State and announced before 2014.

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Resources

Health Reform January 2011 15 Maiden Lane, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10038 p (212) 697-2323 f (212) 697-0566 Resources

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Glossary

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Fragile Children

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Young Adults

Coverage for young adults up to age 26 Since September 23, 2010, young adults up to 26 years of age have been permitted to stay on or join their parents’ health insurance plans. This will continue to be an ongoing policy.

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Public Insurance

Expanded Medicaid eligibility Starting in 2014, income eligibility for Medicaid will be 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) in every state. (Currently, the federal poverty level is $10,830 for an individual and $22,050 for a family of four – so Medicaid eligibility would be $14,404 for a single person and $29,327 for a family of four.)

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Summary

This toolkit was designed for community-based workers in New York State. While all of the information provided here applies to New York residents, some of the information applies to other states as well. This toolkit is intended to give a comprehensive overview of several important changes under health reform, focusing on how children and families will benefit from these changes.

January 1, 2011

Health Reform Toolkit Bridge Plan

Coverage for Individuals with Pre-existing Conditions New York’s Bridge Plan The New York Bridge Plan was created to provide immediate affordable health insurance coverage to uninsured peopl e with pre-existing medical conditions * . People with pre- existing conditions can now apply to be covered by the Bridge Plan until other affordable coverage is available in 2014.

January 1, 2011

Health Insurance Manhattan

September 1, 2010

Health Insurance Bronx

September 1, 2010

Health Insurance Brooklyn

September 1, 2010

Health Insurance Queens

September 1, 2010

Options for Uninsured

Health and Hospitals Corporation oversees public hospitals and clinics in New York City. HHC helps patients apply for public health insurance programs for which they may qualify. If a patient is not eligible for public insurance, HHC reduces the patient's fee to an affordable amount, based on family size and income.

September 1, 2010

Insurance for Immigrant Children

Health insurance for immigrant children

September 1, 2010


For more information on CDF-NY’s Children’s Health Advocacy, please contact:

Benjamin Anderson
Director of Health Policy