Boosting Child Development: $30M Awarded to Health Centers for Enhanced Screening and Follow-Up Services

Children's health© Sorapop Udomsri / Canva

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), recently awarded $30 million to 151 HRSA-funded health centers to improve developmental outcomes among children ages 0-5 through increased screenings and follow-up services.

Health centers are the vital source of primary care for more than 30 million people across the country, and ongoing, sustainable funding for health centers expires at the end of September. Health centers provide essential preventive and primary care services in the highest need communities across the country. Health centers will use the announced funding to strengthen and expand the availability of early childhood services that are vital for reducing gaps in school readiness and improving children’s ability to succeed.

The President’s Budget has called for renewing and growing the federal investment in health centers to support critical work like meeting the developmental needs of young children.

“Health centers provide young children with developmental disabilities in our highest need communities with the support they need to succeed. This National Health Center Week, we recognize and thank health centers and their staff for their continued dedication to underserved communities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Health centers provide many kinds of support, including screening of young children and connecting them to appropriate services. We urge Congress to fund health centers in a sustainable way, so more Americans benefit from this support.”

“Young children deserve the highest quality care, including early identification of and response to developmental evaluations,” said Administrator Carole Johnson. “By investing in health centers’ capacity to support developmental screenings and follow-up, we aim to help families in some of the most high need communities across the country get the support they need so that their children can thrive. We look forward to Congress acting to sustain and grow the federal investment in health centers before funding expires at the end of September.”

Recently released HRSA survey data shows overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients at HRSA-funded health centers. The findings underscore the need to address the funding cliff facing the Health Center Program before mandatory funding expires September 30th.  Health centers are meeting or surpassing national quality standards in patient experiences and satisfaction.

Health centers provide comprehensive, high-quality primary health care services tailored to their communities regardless of their patients’ ability to pay. HRSA’s Health Center Program is a cornerstone of our country’s health care system, especially for individuals and families who are uninsured; enrolled in Medicaid; living in rural, remote, or underserved areas; struggling to afford their health insurance co-pays; experiencing homelessness; residing in public housing; or otherwise having difficulty finding a doctor or paying for the cost of care.

Today, the approximately 1,400 HRSA-funded health centers operate nearly 15,000 service sites. In 2022, health centers provided care for more than 30 million patients, including 1 in 5 residents in rural areas and 1 in 11 people nationwide. Health centers are funded through multi-year mandatory funding and annual discretionary appropriations. Both are set to expire at the end of September without congressional action, causing disruptions in care and services for individuals who rely on this essential network.

For a list of the Fiscal Year 2023 Early Childhood Development awardees, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/funding/funding-opportunities/health-center-early-childhood-development-fy-2023-awards

Find a health center: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/.

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