The Issue

In California, more than one million children have a special health care need, which is a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional condition that requires more than routine health and related services.

Children with special health care needs and their families face many challenges. Health care and other necessary support services generally are provided in an uncoordinated manner, and families are left to navigate the fragmented system on their own. Health care coverage is often inadequate, expensive and inconsistent. Even when families have health coverage, many children may have unmet health care needs due to limited access to pediatric specialists and preventive care. For children of color, low-income families, and families living in rural areas, these challenges are greater.

This fragmented system of care places these children at higher risk for poor health outcomes in both the short and long term. It also increases health care costs and puts many families under enormous financial and emotional stress.


Program Goals

Major changes are necessary and possible through the combined efforts of families, care providers, health care agencies and organizations, and policymakers.

Through its grantmaking, research, policy advocacy, and community engagement work, the Foundation supports efforts that promote development of systems that delivers family-centered, high-quality health care and related services, funded through an efficient and comprehensive payment system. A better functioning system will improve health outcomes for children with special needs, enhance the quality of life of these children and their families, and allow public and private systems to be more responsive and equitable.

See our Action Agenda for more information.

Our Team


Programs and Partnerships Team
Meet the staff members who are working to improve the health care system for children with special health care needs.

Take Action!


Join forces with the 1400+ members of the California Advocacy Network for Children with Special Health Care Needs.