HEALTHY MINDS AND BODIES

 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids 13-17.

 

The leading causes of school absences are asthma, oral health problems and mental health challenges.

 

217,000 kids in Georgia don’t have health insurance coverage.

 

580,000 kids in Georgia don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Why It Matters

The leading causes of school absences are asthma, oral health problems, and mental health challenges.

Voices believes access to quality healthcare and comprehensive insurance are vital for a child’s development. Children without coverage are more likely to have unmet health needs and lack a usual source of care.

Where Georgia Stands

5

Highest childhood uninsured rate in the nation.

56

of children who die before the age of 18 are Black children, despite making up only one-third of the state's child population

40

Of Georgia’s children age 3 to 17 have trouble accessing the mental health treatment they need.

Our Priorities

Highlights of Our Work

Increasing insurance coverage for children

Voices is the go-to resource for policymakers when it comes to children’s coverage. We educate legislators on administrative solutions and policy changes that will reduce the rate of uninsured children. We share the significance of parental and caregiver coverage, and explain how expanding coverage through Medicaid is critical for family stability and community economic prosperity.

In 2018, an estimated 217,000 children under the age of 19 in Georgia were uninsured.

The majority of uninsured children in Georgia are eligible for Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids®. Yet, many remain uninsured due to issues with eligibility determinations, enrollment and renewals.

Our work in this area:

Implementing recommendations from the Barriers to Healthcare Access for Georgia’s Children report.

Voices’ Barriers to Healthcare for Georgia’s Children report identified and highlighted ten of the most common challenges that people across the state told us they experience when it comes to accessing healthcare and health coverage. In the report, Voices offers a set of recommendations that would alleviate these challenges by changing systems and policies to provide the services and care they need.

Read the Barriers to Healthcare for Georgia’s Children report
Listen To Our Podcasts

Improving access to behavioral healthcare for children

Stressful or traumatic events (such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing domestic violence) along with undiagnosed or untreated behavioral disorders (like autism, attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety) can lead to a lifetime of unintended consequences such as the delayed ability to learn, unmanaged anger, substance abuse, or even suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids ages 13-17.

In 2018, more than 116,000 middle and high school students in Georgia reported they had attempted or considered suicide.

In 2017, Voices investigated why roughly 60% of children in our state with a mental or behavioral condition are not receiving the services they need and subsequently published the “Georgia’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis,” which focused on the deficiencies in the number and quality of professionals in the mental health field.

Our work in this area includes:

Implementing recommendations from our Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis

Voices, in partnership with our Child and Adolescent Health Coalition and the Interagency Directors Team, is leading the implementation of the recommendations outlined in our Children’s Behavioral Health Workforce report. The report shows the behavioral healthcare needs of Georgia’s children are not being met. Our in-depth research and analysis identified opportunities to strengthen the workforce in three areas: education and training, practice environment, and retaining high-quality practitioners.

Read Workforce Report

Cultivating Trauma-Informed Universities

Trauma-Informed Universities is a multi-year initiative to transform Georgia’s behavioral health workforce into robust, trauma-informed providers. Because trauma training for behavioral health providers is inconsistent, it is imperative that we align this training for our kids. Along with the Interagency Directors Team, Voices has implemented a trauma training pilot at five universities across the state, and will be coordinating internships and expanding trauma training to counseling programs.

Leading the Behavioral Health subgroup of the Child and Adolescent Health Coalition

Voices leads the behavioral health subgroup of the Child and Adolescent Health Coalition (CAHC). The work of the subgroup lead to the creation of the Children’s Mental Health Commission with Voices’ Executive Director, Dr. Erica Fener Sitkoff as a member. The Commission’s work led to an unprecedented $24 million in new funding for children’s mental health services. In 2019, Governor Kemp made an additional $8 million investment in our state’s school-based mental health program, Project Apex.

Increasing healthcare access through school-based and other telemedicine programs

Due to provider shortages in the state’s rural areas, families often travel long distances to access pediatric primary and specialty services

By bringing health care services to where children are: at school, we can increase access to quality primary health care, improve the delivery of health services, and improve the health outcomes for children in Georgia. Voices spearheaded the development, state funding, and expansion of school-based mental health services to 394 Georgia schools over the past five years.

Approximately 94% of Georgia counties have a full or partial health professional shortage.

Our work in this area includes:

Voices’ School-based Telemedicine Project

Voices, along with Emory University’s PARTNERS in Equity for Child and Adolescent Health, is developing comprehensive guidelines for school-based telemedicine programs in Georgia. The guidance will outline how to: enroll children, ensure adequate onsite management, establish effective communication between telemedicine and primary care providers, and implement financial practices, including billing. This guidance will ensure efficiency of telemedicine investments and enable successful implementation of school-based telemedicine services.

Read Our School-Based Telehealth Report

Leading the Child and Adolescent Health Coalition

In 2015, Voices founded the Child and Adolescent Health Coalition (CAHC) in partnership with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (coalition members below). The CAHC unites advocates, service providers, universities, and state agency leaders to advance solutions that improve health outcomes for Georgia’s children and families, particularly  those most vulnerable. We share best practices from communities, illuminate disparities, identify policy priorities to expand what’s working well and, importantly, address what’s not working — such as the disproportionate increase in uninsured children and inability to access behavioral health services and supports.

80+ members from across the state unite to raise awareness and improve children's health.

Our work in this area includes:

While the list of policy priorities will be finalized in May/June, at the forefront of initial discussions are state budget cuts, telehealth, health coverage, food access, and child abuse. More specifically, an extension of the loosened restrictions on telehealth provision (such that providers can be reimbursed for these services and programs remain viable), streamlined access to health care coverage and food access benefits, and multi-sector collaborations to meet the increased behavioral health needs of children.

It is clear that health agencies cannot solve these challenges alone. For example, the digital divide (i.e. disparate access to connectivity) was heard loud and clear as the CAHC discussed what we truly need to improve access via telehealth. The dialogue underscored the importance of whole child policy and cross agency partnerships. Thankfully, the CAHC has diverse membership in background and networks to help make that happen.

Recent big win:

Greater access to Medicaid and SNAP applications online. The Coalition has long called for increased access to Gateway, the state’s benefits portal, which limited application inflow by restricting access to the workday for Medicaid and not allowing online initial applications for SNAP. After a strong, multi-pronged push, 24/7 access for Medicaid was opened and all SNAP applications can now be received online as of January 2020.

American Psychiatric Association

Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Atlanta Legal Aid Society 

CarePartners of Georgia 

CareSource 

Carl Vinson Institute of Government 

The Carter Center 

Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, Inc. 

Childkind 

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

CHRIS 180

Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia 

Easterseals  North Georgia

Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice 

Georgia Association of School Nurses 

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute 

Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential 

Georgia Center for Child Advocacy  

Georgia Council on Substance Abuse 

Georgia Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities 

Child and Adolescent Health Coalition

Georgia Dept. of Community Health 

Georgia Dept. of Early Care and Learning 

Georgia Dept. of Juvenile Justice 

Georgia Dept. of Education 

Georgia Dept. of Public Health 

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services 

Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students 

Georgia Equality 

Georgia HOPE 

Georgia Legal Services Program 

Georgia Parent Support Network 

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education 

Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center

Georgia School Boards Association 

Georgia Society for Respiratory Care 

Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network 

Georgia State University Center of Excellence for Children’s Behavioral Health 

Georgia State University Center for Leadership in Disability 

Georgia State University Health Law Partnership Legal Services Clinic 

Get Georgia Reading 

Georgians for a Healthy Future 

Grady Health System 

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies 

Hillside 

Interfaith Children’s Movement 

J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development 

Lamar County Schools Social Work Program

Mental Health America of Georgia 

Metropolitan Counseling Services 

Morehouse School of Medicine 

National Alliance for Mental Illness Georgia 

National Association of Pediatric Nurses Georgia 

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough 

Parent to Parent of Georgia 

PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health 

Partnership Against Domestic Violence 

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Network of Trust School Health Program 

Resilient Georgia 

Together Georgia 

The Tull Charitable Foundation 

United Way of Greater Atlanta

View Point Health 

Voices for Georgia’s Children 

VOX ATL 

Wins for Kids

Underserved areas of Georgia have more access to pediatric care.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, Voices organized support for granting telemedicine licenses to physicians licensed in other states. This action by the General Assembly expands access to pediatric care in underserved areas of our state.
Children with environmentally sensitive medical conditions, like asthma, have safe home
environments.
Voices helped secure passage of a law that prohibits retaliation against tenants who pursue Code Enforcement for unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions.

Factsheets

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We are a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization advancing laws, policies,
and actions that improve the lives of Georgia’s children.

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