Children's hospitals' patients and families know firsthand what it's like to navigate care for kids with medical complexities, behavioral and mental health issues and more. Their experiences make them powerful advocates for children's health and health care. Through Speak Now For Kids' Family Advocacy Day (FAD), nearly 50 patients and their families met with members of Congress to share their stories and advocate for kids.
Participants from over 30 children's hospitals, representing 17 states, met with legislators to champion topics related to Medicaid, youth mental health, the pediatric health care workforce and more.
During the kickoff event, Austin, an 11-year-old who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at Children's Wisconsin in 2019, shared a few encouraging words with the patient champions. Over the past two years, Austin went through inpatient treatment at a psychiatric facility, exacerbated by the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Austin and his mother, Melissa, are advocating for expanded access to behavioral health care in the pediatric setting.
Other patients and their families discussed:
- The mental, emotional and behavioral health emergency in children, many of whom also struggle with other medical conditions. The Strengthen Kids' Mental Health Now Bill would invest in infrastructure to ensure kids can get the care they need.
- Timely access to doctors and other professionals trained to meet the health care needs of children. This includes additional funding for Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) and accelerating kids' access to care.
- The vital role Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) play in families' lives, providing health insurance to nearly half of all children in the U.S.