The Front Line of Health Reform: Teaching Parents How to Treat Their...

The Front Line of Health Reform: Teaching Parents How to Treat Their Own Kids

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girl.jpgThe innovative program that provides a dose of hands-on health care training, boosting parents’ ability to care for common childhood ailments at home while saving Medicaid millions annually, has been awarded a $1.1 million grant by the U.S. Office of Head Start to train thousands more families nationwide.        
 
The new grant will expand the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute’s successful model of providing low-literacy healthcare training for Head Start parents. The national rollout will train an additional 8,000 families over three years, further reducing health care costs, ER and doctor/clinic visits and missed school and workdays.
 
Since 2001, the program, called I Can Help My Child Stay Healthy, has reached nearly 27,000 families nationwide. UCLA researchers have shown that if the training were provided for the nearly one million families served by Head Start, potential savings to Medicaid could reach $554 per family in direct costs – or over half a billion dollars annually.  (Photo above, by David Nolan)

Health Care Training Yields Big Impact – on Families and Costs 

In a groundbreaking pilot study published in 2004, Health Care Institute’s researchers demonstrated the impact of educating and empowering Head Start parents to treat everyday childhood ailments such as fevers, colds and earaches at home. Visits to the ER or to doctors/clinics were reduced by 58 and 41 percent, respectively, while missed school and workdays dropped by 29 and 42 percent – results that held steady as the pilot program expanded.

Pat Brown, acting director of the Office of Head Start, described the partnership between UCLA and CMCA as  a “dynamic and successful new model for health care training”.

“Improving the health literacy of Head Start families and, therefore, the health of children we serve, is of vital importance,” said Brown.

A Three-Year Plan

head-start-kids-sm.gifThe national rollout will span 10 Head Start regions, beginning with the CMCA training approximately 1,500 families in Missouri in 2009. Another 2,500 families in the east coast regions will follow in 2010, and the final 2,500 families in the west will be trained in 2011. Migrant and seasonal workers and Native American families can apply to participate in either of the second or third years of the grant.
          
According to Darin Pries, executive director of CMCA, when families are healthy, parents are more likely to be able to focus on long-term goals and make decisions that lead them out of poverty.

States Also Jumping On Board

The success of the Health Care Institute program has attracted the attention of state governments interested in containing health care costs in clinics and emergency rooms. The State of New Mexico adopted the Health Care Institute’s training program, with support from Pfizer, Inc., to train 5,000 Head Start families. The Institute is also currently working with the State of Washington – with the support of the State Legislature – on a state-wide training program that will conclude in 2010.
          
“We hope the I Can collaboration will inspire other states and organizations to support similar programs, expanding the benefits of health care literacy training to countless families across the country,” said Dr. Herman.

Learn more at the Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute website

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