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.

63

Of 159 counties do not have a pediatrician.

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

Child and Adolescent Health Coalition and additional collaborative work.

Voices co-leads the Child Adolescent Health Coalition (CAHC), along with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The CAHC exists to bring a greater focus to children’s health issues in our state and unite advocates in action to drive solutions for our state. The coalition shares and coordinates legislative advocacy goals and strategies, as well as tackles specific strategy topics, such as the recent growing uninsured rate of Georgia’s under the age of 19, and challenges in accessing services to address developmental delays, such as the Babies Can’t Wait program. Voices, in partnership with the Coalition, led the effort to ask former Governor Nathan Deal to establish a reform commission to write a state strategic plan for children’s mental health. Read more on how Voices and the CAHC play a critical role in behavioral health access in Georgia.

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.

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

Join Us

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

Subscribe