Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Giving a Voice to Children's Health Care Needs

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Giving a Voice to Children's Health Care Needs

Article excerpt

The National Association of Child Advocates acts at the state and local level.

The past ten years have been a time of dramatic change in the nation's health care system, particularly for women and children. Some of these changes--for example, expansions in Medicaid and medical advances that enable very premature infants to breath easier--have been good for children. Other changes, however, have been less positive, particularly family reliance on an increasingly managed care environment that often does not appear either well-managed or caring to parents who are forced to negotiate complex medical systems. It is in this environment that the Washington D.C.-based National Association of Child Advocates (NACA) is facing some of its greatest challenges.

The NACA is a non-profit organization composed of independent, multi-issue, state and community-based child advocacy organizations. Founded in 1994, NACA and its member organizations, have pursued one mission to ensure that children across the country obtain the multiple services necessary to grow into healthy, productive adults. Today, the NACA comprises fifty-three member organizations in forty states around the country. These child-advocacy organizations provide no direct services; their sole purpose is to advocate--in state capitols, county commissions, and city halls--for those without a voice in the political arena.

In recent years, the number of children who lack health insurance and access to medical care has grown. At the same time, we have experienced a shift in government that has moved the seat of power from the federal to the state or local level. At no time in recent history has the need for state and local child advocates, particularly those focused on health care, been greater. State legislators, county commissioners and city council members are being called upon to make critical decisions that had previously been made by health care experts in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Now, state and local politicians, who generally lack sufficient expertise on health issues, are being called upon to make decisions about the availability of health care services in towns and cities across the United States.

In this changing environment, state and local child advocacy organizations have a critical role to play in protecting our children's interests. …

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