New study shows healthcare in families is inter-related: kids receive recommended care when parents are insured

A recent article in Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine highlights a new study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that finds parental Medicaid enrollment is linked to an increase in pediatric well-child visits for children in low-income families. The study, published in Pediatrics, found that a parent being enrolled in Medicaid was associated with a 29 percentage point higher probability that low-income children received an annual well-child visit, compared to a child whose parent was not enrolled in Medicaid.

The authors consider several reasons why this may occur, including:

  • when parents receive Medicaid, their children may also be more likely to enroll in the program;
  • parental insurance coverage could result in improvement in family financial status, which can enable children’s healthcare use; and
  • when parents are able to enroll in insurance and engage with the health system for themselves, they may be more likely to engage in care-seeking for their children.

Regardless of the reasons, researchers suggest that efforts to expand Medicaid or other insurance eligibility for low-income parents could help promote the child’s receipt of critical, recommended preventative health care services.

“Healthcare use in families is inter-related, and policies and programs that consider the family as a whole may be more beneficial than those that target either children or their parents independently,” says lead study author Maya Venkataramani, MD.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) has assisted recently helped several clients develop and/or implement strategy to increase awareness about important early childhood services. This includes mapping the landscape of health care advocacy efforts in New York for the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, increasing awareness of pre-natal health care for mothers in Franklin County, Ohio, or developing language to support a Two-Generational approach in Detroit, Michigan.

Sweeping Changes to the Criminal Justice System on the Horizon

Criminal Justice Reform is getting an increasing level of attention nationally and in state capitals from coast to coast – from legislative fixes to ballot initiatives, addressing our criminal justice system is a hot topic and high priority across the political spectrum.

In Ohio, in part due to the Opioid crisis sweeping across the state, there are multiple efforts to address the issue. What we know about Ohio’s prison status:

  • Ohio has the 5th highest prison population, behind states with significantly larger populations (Texas, Florida, California,) and Georgia.
  • It cost $1.8 billion a year to operate Ohio’s prison systems.
  • Ohio prisons are designed to hold 38,600 people (currently at 130% capacity).
  • Average cost per inmate: $26,364 a year.
  • 1 in 4 of all people newly admitted to prison in Ohio are there for a drug offense.

*Statistics from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (

Advocates in Ohio are proposing a ballot initiative called the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment to divert low-level drug offenders away from prison and reinvesting the money saved in community rehabilitation programs and victims services.

Ohio is not alone. On the heels of reforms from states like Florida and California, several other states are proposing sweeping changes. Massachusetts’ criminal justice bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Six separate criminal justice bills are moving through Oklahoma’s legislature this session.

In addition to state-level efforts, Congress is working on a new bi-partisan criminal justice reform bill, which just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Media from Fox News to the New York Times are covering and supporting criminal justice reform efforts across the country.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC will continue to follow criminal justice reform efforts across the country.

Small towns and rural areas lag in economic and employment growth

A recent Brookings report highlights the divide between large metropolitan areas and small cities and rural areas. Smaller metropolitan areas with less than 250,000 people—representing 9 percent of the nation’s population—have lost ground in terms of economic and population growth. Rural areas had even greater declines in output and employment since 2010. There is some variability among states. For example, in New York, 95 percent of the state’s 2010 to 2016 employment growth emanated from large metro counties, in Ohio it was 62%, and in South Carolina it was just 9%. See here for 50-state data on the shares of states’ growth generated by large, medium, and small metropolitan areas as well as rural areas.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) has assisted the J. Marion Sims Foundation since 2016 in a variety of ways, including helping to design an ongoing community engagement effort and being a thought partner as the Foundation shifts their strategic direction. As a champion for the Lancaster, South Carolina region, the Foundation works collaboratively with other organizations to strategically address declines in economic growth and employment in their region. The Foundation is specifically focused on building a healthy community where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

What Journalists and Community Leaders Should Look for During Child Care Site Visits & Tours

Are you looking for a way to allow journalists to better understand and experience the importance of quality child care during a site visit? The Education Writers Association outlines a wonderful story that not only provides examples, but a quick check list to ensure that local reporters get the most out of a visit to your early learning program. The tips in this article offer easy to understand and accessible options to ensure journalists but also any visitor can not only understand what quality is but also experience it. Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) has planned and conducted dozens of site visits around the country for journalists, policymakers, and community leaders. ACS early learning client PRE4CLE is in the midst of site visits with Ohio gubernatorial candidates helping them to experience the critical nature of quality experiences for young children and hopefully shape early learning policies of future office holders.

See more here:

A perfect storm brewing for foundations and non-profit organizations

A recent analysis by Grants Plus “What does tax reform mean for grant funding?” outlines the implications of the new tax law on philanthropic giving. Grants Plus warns of a “perfect storm” that will impact philanthropic giving if individual donations fall at the same time that federal grants and contracts, and state and local budgets, are reduced or even cut.

The Grants Plus highlights the shift in overall giving patterns based on a projected increase of 30 million tax payers who will now take the standardized deduction on their individual taxes (from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy), as well as a drop in charitable donations of between $16 billion and $24 billion per year (from the Council on Foundations).

Non-profits feeling the pinch – The new tax law will not affect all non-profit organizations in the same ways. Although budget uncertainty is likely for all organizations, there may be significant differences in giving patterns based on donor preferences. Large nonprofits, like universities, museums, and hospitals, are favored by the wealthiest donors, while ordinary Americans donate more to local charities, social service agencies, and religious organizations. Grants Plus suggests that the organizations most likely to be hurt by a disproportionate decline in giving by middle-income donors are those that meet local needs and serve vulnerable communities.

Foundations must make difficult choices – In the short-term, it seems individual donor giving patterns will not affect foundations. With fewer state and federal dollars to work with, however, some non-profits will rely more heavily on philanthropic giving. This means increased competition for fewer dollars, especially for those organizations that provide crisis or safety net services. This means foundations will have to make some tough choices.

What can organizations do?

  • Talk with individual donors
  • Shore up your funder stewardship and deepen the relationships and trust
  • Be alert to changing priorities
  • Seek out new sources of support – See Grants Plus tips for finding funders most likely to fund your nonprofit or contact Grants Plus about our comprehensive Funding Scan.
  • Engage your staff and board

Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) has previously partnered with Grants Plus to assist organizations in meeting their objectives. In addition, ACS continues to help foundations and non-profit organizations who rely on philanthropic giving to strategically communicate about their work to target audiences and position themselves to achieve their goals.

ACS client creates a research-based communication strategy and commercials to increase awareness of high-quality early learning

In May of 2017, The Franklin County Department of Job & Family Services (FCDJFS) in Columbus, Ohio contracted with Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) to lead and develop their Early Learning Media Campaign between May and September 2017. The purpose of this campaign was to help advance communication among two target audiences– parents and home and center based child care providers in Franklin County about the importance of high quality early learning—specifically the importance for child care providers to become quality rated via Ohio’s Step Up to Quality system and for parents to seek out star rated providers when looking for child care options. Based on local qualitative and quantitative research and planning with FCDJFS leadership two commercials were produced which featured local parents and child care providers to help leverage existing FCDJFS outreach. ACS has continued work with FCJDFS for 2018 to build on the work in 2017 and will have more to share in the coming months about the evolution of this critical work. See the commercial focused on parents here and for child care providers here

New Study Uncovers a Startling Statistic: 4.2 Million Kids Experience Homelessness Nationwide

There is growing and often hidden epidemic – 4.2 million young people experience unaccompanied homelessness in the course of a year, according to a new study from Chapin Hall a research center at the University of Chicago. This study provides new evidence for understanding the scale, scope, and urgency of youth homelessness in America.

The scale of the issue is startling – 1 in 30 teens (ages 13-17) experience some form of homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or guardian over the course of a year. As children age, the problem is more prevalent. One in 10 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 experience homelessness.

The study also found that some populations are more likely to experience homelessness than others. For example:

  • African American youth are 82 percent more likely and Hispanic non-White youth are 33 percent more likely to experience homelessness.
  • LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience youth homelessness than other people.
  • Unmarried parenting youth had a 200 percent higher risk for homelessness.

In addition to shedding light on who is most often affected, the new report corrects some misconceptions (showing it is an issue in rural as well as in urban areas), and the impacts that homelessness can have on youth education and development (youth experiencing homelessness often do not show up to school or frequently switch between schools, and as a result do not have high school diplomas).

The researchers recommend that policymakers build prevention efforts in systems where youth likely to experience homelessness such as the child welfare, juvenile justice, and education systems. Statistics show that nearly one-third of youth experiencing homelessness had experiences with foster care and nearly half had been in juvenile detention, jail, or prison.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) is honored to have partnered with Cleveland Ohio’s Housing First Initiative to help implement its local and trade earned media campaign in December 2017 to educate the community about its milestones to date and to announce that it is on pace to end long-term homelessness by 2020. As a result, Housing First secured the following earned media:

  • WCPN Sound of Ideas: Net Neutrality and Housing First – A look at Housing First, a collaborative in Cuyahoga County that announced it is on pace to end long-term homelessness in the region by 2020.
  • WVIZ ideas: Long-Term Homelessness Dwindles Down in Cuyahoga County –
    Housing First says that it is on track to end “long-term homelessness” in Cuyahoga County by 2020. The group looks to finish its 13th project in 2019, bringing the total number of residential units to 781.
  • Crain’s Cleveland Business (appeared online and in print):  Organizations near milestone in housing for Cuyahoga County homeless – A $12.9 million apartment building in Brooklyn Centre may be the final puzzle piece in solving chronic homelessness in Cuyahoga County. Housing First, a collaboration of community organizations in Cuyahoga County fighting long-term homelessness, has announced it is on pace to end the problem in the county by 2020. With the construction of this new apartment building, slated to be completed in 2019, the group said the county will have enough permanent supportive housing to sustainably serve all individuals and families with disabilities who are struggling with long-term homelessness.

New Healthy Early Development Tools from the CDC

In an effort to encourage parents and providers to learn the signs of and monitor the healthy development of young children and take action when there is a concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched their Learn the Signs. Act Early. Campaign, which provides free developmental milestone checklists, tips, and tools, including a new developmental milestone tracker. Learn more by going here:

Research shows that identifying developmental delays and disabilities is important. One in six children aged 3–17 years have developmental disabilities—conditions that affect how children play, learn, speak, act, or move. Early intervention (before school age) can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills as well as reduce the need for costly interventions over time.

The Learn the Signs. Act Early. Campaign materials may be useful for several of Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) clients and the individuals they work with across the country, including parents, early care and education providers, healthcare providers, and others who work with young children.

CHIP program funded for six years

After three days of a government shutdown, federal lawmakers signed a short-term spending bill on January 22, 2018 that reauthorizes and funds the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. When CHIP expired in September, it put health care services at-risk for more than 9 million low-income children and pregnant women who do not have employer-based insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

According to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, ten states — Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Washington — plus Washington, D.C., were expected to run out of CHIP money by the end of January.  Historically supported by both parties, numerous governors across the country issued statements in support of continued funding for the program. For now, CHIP remains intact. Other programs, such as the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) remain in limbo.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) continues to watch changes to this, and other issues of importance for our clients in 2018.

Head Start keeps children from entering foster care

New research adds to previous findings about the benefits of Head Start programs for young children, showing children are 93% less likely to end up in foster care. “New evidence suggests Head Start not only helps kids develop and allows parents to go to work, but it may also help at-risk kids from ending up in the foster care system,” says Sacha Klein, assistant professor of social work at Michigan State University. Klein and her colleagues studied the national survey data of nearly 2,000 families in which a child had entered the child welfare system for suspicion of abuse or neglect. Those children were either removed from the home or were being overseen by a caseworker.

This research suggests Head Start may protect against foster care because of its focus on the entire family. Not only are these programs service educational needs of children, but they emphasize parental involvement and provide support to parents around housing, continued education, and financial security. Head Start programs have minimum performance standards to ensure quality for all children and their families.

Children under the supervision of a case-worker are not necessarily eligible for Head Start. Klein believes all children involved with the state’s Child Protective Services should be eligible for Head Start to greatly reduce the number of children removed from their families.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) works with partners across the country to advocate for high-quality early childhood programs, such as Head Start. Head Start and Early Head Start were not reauthorized in 2017. ACS will continue to track reauthorization and funding levels of Head Start.