Implementing community-based systems of services for children and youths with special health care needs: how well are we doing?

Merle McPherson, Gloria Weissman, Bonnie B Strickland, Peter C van Dyck, Stephen J Blumberg, Paul W Newacheck
Pediatrics 2004, 113 (5): 1538-44

OBJECTIVE: To provide a baseline measure of the proportion of US children who meet the Maternal and Child Health Bureau's core outcomes for children with special health care needs (CSHCN). Those core outcomes include the following: 1) families of CSHCN will partner in decision making and will be satisfied with the services that they receive; 2) CSHCN will receive coordinated, ongoing comprehensive care within a medical home; 3) families of CSHCN will have adequate private and/or public insurance to pay for the services that they need; 4) children will be screened early and continuously for special health care needs; 5) community-based service systems will be organized so that families can use them easily; and 6) youths with special health care needs will receive the services necessary to make transitions to adult life, including adult health care, work, and independence.

METHODS: A national household survey was conducted using telephone interviews. We analyzed data on 38,866 CSHCN included in the 2001 National Survey of CSHCN and 13,579 children included in the 2001 National Health Interview Survey. We assessed the proportion of US children who met each of the 6 core outcomes for CSHCN using data from 2 surveys.

RESULTS: Success rates ranged from 6% (the core outcome on successful transition to adulthood) to 74% (the core outcome on organization of the service system). For 5 of the 6 core outcomes, success rates exceeded 50%.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that, for the most part, the United States is well positioned to meet the 6 core outcomes. However, much more work lies ahead before success can be claimed. This is especially true for the core outcome on transition to adulthood, for which only 6% of children in the target population are now meeting this goal.

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