As individuals, organizations and a community of children’s hospitals, we enter 2020 with fresh perspectives and renewed commitments to our most important priorities. We know healthy children grow into healthy, productive adults who will positively affect our communities. Through Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), we can align our expertise and engage others to impact the future of our children.
At CHOC Children’s, “Long Live Childhood” is our North Star inspiring all we do. Your North Star may have different words, but the inspiration is the same. In every children’s hospital, we are all committed to caring for the whole child. Integrating how we prevent, diagnose and treat children’s physical and behavioral health conditions is the biggest challenge we must tackle. Health is health.
As we look to 2020 and beyond, we need to change the nation’s North Star regarding children’s health. Elevating and addressing children’s mental, emotional and behavioral health needs are essential to our care of the whole child. We have made great strides in addressing children’s physical health; however, we are not allocating the same focus and resources to addressing children’s mental health.
Without systems in place to foster healthy development, build resiliency, and promote early identification and interventions, the number of children with mental health issues in our emergency rooms and inpatient units will continue to grow. Most importantly, we know we cannot tackle this crisis alone. Schools, community partners and families are essential to generating progress. Working together, a new North Star for our children’s health will take hold. So where are our opportunities in 2020?
Elevate the conversation around child health in every political race. We are in an election year for the U.S. presidency, one-third of U.S. Senate seats and all 435 of the U.S. House of Representatives. More than 20% of states will have contested governor races, and all will have crucial elections in the state houses and local communities.
Shape our Medicaid reform work. We will continue to defend the current program in a challenging environment and work to improve it, anchoring our strategies in the behavioral health needs of children.
Expand our focus on learning and sharing with each other through CHA. This will help us innovate and improve behavioral health care, in partnership with communities and states, and the families we serve.
Let’s raise the bar and challenge ourselves to make children the top priority in 2020.