EVERY CHILD A CHANCE Campaign to Highlight Importance for America’s Kids to Be Healthy and Ready to Learn

Children’s Health Fund launches national effort to raise awareness of critical connection between health and education—especially for disadvantaged children

If children are not healthy, their chance to do well in school is at risk. And many preventable or manageable health-related conditions can explicitly interfere with school readiness or classroom performance. That’s the driving idea behind Children’s Health Fund’s new public awareness campaign, EVERY CHILD A CHANCE. The campaign, which launches today, will call attention to the underreported relationship between a child’s health and his or her potential for educational achievement, with special emphasis on the challenges facing kids living in poverty. As it illuminates the role good health plays in educational success, the campaign will foster a national conversation and promote ways that parents, educators, and medical professionals can work together to ensure that all children are healthy and ready to learn from birth through school graduation.

“All across America, millions of children are struggling in school because preventable or easily treatable medical conditions are interfering with their ability to learn. If children can’t see the board because they haven’t had their eyes checked to diagnose a vision problem, or they are up all night coughing with uncontrolled asthma, then they are in an uphill battle to get the most out of their education, “ said Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and co-founder of Children’s Health Fund. “For the one in five children living in poverty in the US—children who face tremendous challenges in accessing quality healthcare—the situation is especially critical. For these kids, education is their ticket out of poverty. But if health problems prevent them from attending school or keeping pace in class, their time in school might turn out to be a ticket to nowhere. That is a situation that not only prevents a child from growing up to fulfill his or her potential, it will ultimately have a negative impact on our entire society,” he added.

EVERY CHILD A CHANCE builds on the quarter-century of experience Children’s Health Fund has in providing health care to financially disadvantaged children and families across America. Every day, on board its national fleet of mobile medical clinics, healthcare professionals provide essential care—vision and hearing screenings, asthma testing and treatment, immunizations, anemia screening, nutrition advice, and more—to children who might not otherwise have access to quality medical services. Over 70% of its 272 national service sites are schools, and the mobile clinic medical professionals work closely with school principals, teachers, and nurses to identify and treat children who need care.

EVERY CHILD A CHANCE comes at a critical juncture for American education, as week after week new strategies in teacher training, curriculum reform, and charter schools, are put forth to stem the decline in student achievement. But in cities and towns across the nation, millions of kids have been falling through the cracks due to lack of proper healthcare. Studies have shown that approximately 37 percent of elementary-age children who suffer hearing loss have to repeat at least one grade, and more than one in five school-age children have vision problems that affect their school performance. Asthma is epidemic in many parts of the country, disproportionately affecting kids in poverty. It is estimated that 12.8 million school days are missed every year due to asthma, and many children come to school exhausted from nighttime symptoms.

Children’s Health Fund medical directors see the kids behind these statistics every day on the mobile medical clinics. As Americans debate how to create a more robust and effective educational system, Children’s Health Fund believes that addressing the health and mental health problems of children is a key piece of the puzzle, starting during the crucial development years even before children start school, which can set the stage for lifelong learning.

To kick off the campaign, Children’s Health Fund has teamed up with signature media partner Parents magazine to offer information for parents about how to ensure their child is healthy and ready to learn. The article includes a helpful checklist for parents to reference before back-to-school check-ups. Including immunizations, vision, hearing and dental screening, asthma and allergy questions, concerns about nutrition and exercise, and more, a downloadable checklist offers guidance from Children’s Health Fund experts about how parents can get the most out of their child’s health care check-up.

As the EVERY CHILD A CHANCE campaign unfolds, Children’s Health Fund will build further partnerships to improve health outcomes for children—especially those in poverty—around the country. Encouraging a national dialogue on often-unrecognized health issues that impede children’s ability to learn, the campaign will advocate for policy change where it is needed most.