Improving Systems of Care
for Children with
Special Health Care Needs

The Issues

Nearly 15 percent of children in the US have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. 

These children with special health care needs, a disproportionate number of whom live in low income and minority families, are served by an array of providers and programs which typically are uncoordinated, underfunded and vary in terms of their accessibility, continuity, comprehensiveness, and quality.  

The fragmentation and variability of their care places these children at higher risk of adverse short and long term outcomes, increases health care costs, and causes enormous stress for their families. Major changes in systems of care for these children are necessary and possible through the combined efforts of families, providers, health care agencies and organizations, and policy-makers.

To help address these issues, the Foundation is inviting stakeholders to join the California Advocacy Network for Children with Special Health Care Needs. Learn more about the Network>>


Program Goals

In support of the Foundation's efforts to increase the quality and accessibility of children's health care, the Program on Improving Systems of Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs invests in projects that contribute toward achieving a high-performing health care system that provides high-quality, family-centered, culturally competent and coordinated care within a medical home, funded by a unified, efficient and comprehensive payment system. The program makes grants to:

  • promote system reform through the creation of new models of care, adoption of best practices, and the provision of systemic supports aligning financial incentives to achieve improved outcomes;
  • promote the design and adoption of effective and efficient models of care coordination;
  • enhance access to high quality primary and subspecialty pediatric care;
  • promote the adoption of performance standards and associated quality metrics to guide improvements in key aspects of the care of children with special health care needs;
  • inform key stakeholders through data about the needs of children with special health care needs and their families and about the capacity and performance of the health care delivery system to meet those needs; and
  • assist families and other advocates to make the case for improving systems of care for children with special health care needs.

Funding priority will be given to project that have the potential to affect large numbers of children with special health care needs, focus on systems of care in California and have the potential for national applicability.