Celebrating 35 Years of Helping Millions of Children Thrive and Succeed

By Arturo Brito, MD, MPH, President and CEO, Children's Health Fund

Today is an important day in the history of Children’s Health Fund. It marks the 35th year that we have been providing comprehensive healthcare to help millions of children across America thrive and succeed. And while we are proud of our accomplishments over nearly four decades, we are even more excited about the new work we are kicking off to bring much needed medical, dental, and healthcare services to many millions more children in the United States.

Our new plan, which we are unveiling today and are delighted to share with you, contains the steps that we believe will bring us ever closer to our goal of equal access to comprehensive and quality healthcare in all communities nationwide.

As part of this new plan, we intend to:

  • Take the lead in implementing innovations in healthcare for underserved children,
  • Invest in robust community-based research on behalf of children,
  • Increase awareness about policies that address critical improvements in the healthcare needs of America’s children,
  • Intensify fundraising activities, and
  • Strengthen relationships with research and care-giving institutions.

Clearly we have come a long way since 1987 when singer/songwriter Paul Simon, pediatrician/child advocate Dr. Irwin Redlener, and program designer Karen Redlener came together to launch the Children’s Health Fund.  Now, 35 years later CHF is having a major impact nationwide through our partnership with 25 programs in 15 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, which enable us to deliver comprehensive primary care services, along with mental health, dental care, and health-related social services.

Since our inception, CHF’s innovative approach to service delivery has benefited children, the majority of whom are Black and Hispanic, in under-resourced rural and urban communities. To date, we have mobilized and deployed more than $230 million to support these programs. Each program is affiliated with a major teaching hospital or community health center and serves children in areas federally designated to have a shortage of health professionals. Working with our network partners, CHF has provided more than 6 million health visits for children over the last 35 years, including almost half a million in 2021 alone.

We have also played a major role in influencing national health policy affecting children. Past achievements include helping pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and ongoing efforts to uphold Medicaid and crucial safety net programs. Other efforts have included working for increased access to healthcare and advocating for policy solutions to address homelessness, transportation barriers, asthma care, poor nutrition, and other issues.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished over nearly four decades. But, as our President Emeritus Dr. Redlener notes “millions of children still need access to healthcare and appropriate social interventions. They are the ones who are fueling our desire to redouble our efforts.” Commenting on our new plan, he adds: “We recognize this is an ambitious undertaking, but our steps will build on the last 35 years of work. The work that has demonstrated what this organization is capable of doing in tandem with our national partners and funders.”

Looking back at the distance CHF has traveled over the years, Paul Simon reflects, “Our goal in 1987 was simple: to provide and support access to quality healthcare for America’s most at-risk children. Thirty-five years and six million doctors’ visits later, Children’s Health Fund has accomplished so much, but there is still more to be done.”

We have every confidence that the next 35 years will be our best yet. We look forward to making this journey together with you.

Children’s Health Fund recently hosted a celebration in Washington, D.C. to mark 35 years of providing healthcare to the most medically under-resourced children in America.

“There’s much to do and tonight’s a night to celebrate 35 years—we need you for another 35 years. We need to be able to have the public-private partnerships, the creativity you bring is essential and we need more of it. So, count me in as your continued partner.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

“One of my best friends in the Marines has been flying her kid from Houston to Boston Children’s Hospital to get life-saving care for his heart. But, not every parent can fly their kid across the country to get the medical care they need, to get the medical care that should be a human right—and that’s what you enable. With your mobile medical clinics and the work you do all across America, you’re delivering healthcare to kids that deserve that human right. So, thank you. As a dad, as a veteran, and as a member of a congress that can’t quite get this right, thank you for all you do.”

Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA-6)

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