February 27, 2019 | Press Release


Hamilton, NJ, February 27, 2019 – The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) today announced that eight states — Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — will join Aligning Early Childhood and Medicaid, a multi-state initiative aimed at improving the health and social outcomes of low-income infants, young children, and families through cross-agency collaboration. This national program, led by CHCS in partnership with the National Association of Medicaid Directors and ZERO TO THREE, is made possible through support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The health care system is often the first social sector to connect with the at-risk population of infants in low-income families. However, in most states the health care and early childhood sectors are, at best, tenuously connected, and Medicaid’s potential to support early childhood and family services is largely untapped. Advancing greater alignment between Medicaid and early childhood-serving agencies is critical to advancing the life chances of these children.

“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to promote cross-state agency partnerships and by the states’ focus on engaging these families in the development of programs intended to help them.”

Tara Oakman, PhD, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
“We are delighted to work with CHCS and these eight states to learn how aligning Medicaid and early childhood program activities and goals can alleviate some of the challenges faced by young children and their families,” said Tara Oakman, PhD, senior program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We are particularly excited about the opportunity to promote cross-state agency partnerships and by the states’ focus on engaging these families in the development of programs intended to help them.”

This 20-month project includes eight states with a demonstrated commitment to improve early childhood development through cross-sector partnerships between Medicaid and state agencies responsible for a wide range of early childhood programs including, but not limited to, child welfare; the nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children; Title V Maternal and Child Health; home visiting; early intervention; child care; preschool education; perinatal health care; and early childhood mental health. Through the initiative, participating states will:

  1. Align state programs and investments between Medicaid and other early childhood systems to drive more strategic, evidence-based investments for infants and toddlers in low-income families; and
  2. Demonstrate the value of early childhood cross-sector alignment for improving near- and long-term health and social outcomes.

Each of the participating state teams include Medicaid agency representatives as well as contacts from a child-serving agency, as follows:

  • Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (Medicaid) and the Office of Early Childhood;
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services (Medicaid) and Children and Family Services Administration;
  • New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (Medicaid) and Department of Children and Families;
  • New York Department of Health (Medicaid) and the Division of Family Health at the New York State Department of Health;
  • Oregon Health Authority (Medicaid) and the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education;
  • Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services (Medicaid) and the Department of Human Services;
  • Vermont Department of Health Access (Medicaid) and the Division of Maternal and Child Health at the Department of Health, and the Department for Children and Families; and
  • Washington Health Care Authority (Medicaid) and the Department of Social & Health Services, Economic Services Administrations.

“Medicaid, in true partnership with its sister early childhood agencies, can make a lasting impact by intervening during the first 1,000 days of life to support these young families.”

Stephen A. Somers, PhD, President and CEO, Center for Health Care Strategies
“Medicaid, in true partnership with its sister early childhood agencies, can make a lasting impact by intervening during the first 1,000 days of life to support these young families,” said Stephen A. Somers, PhD, president and CEO, CHCS. “We believe that we can help generate long-term payoffs for these young children as well as the publicly financed social service systems that may be charged with supporting them for years to come.”

This initiative builds on lessons from the Medicaid Early Childhood Innovation Lab, an earlier CHCS-led program that brought together state Medicaid agencies and regional health systems to promote optimal conditions for early childhood development. Over this new 20-month initiative, agency representatives from the eight states will receive tailored technical assistance and participate in peer learning opportunities to exchange and accelerate cross-agency solutions. CHCS will distill lessons from the states’ early childhood cross-sector efforts and share emerging best practices nationally. Look for more information at www.chcs.org.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

About the Center for Health Care Strategies

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is a nonprofit policy center dedicated to improving the health of low-income Americans, especially for individuals with complex, high-cost needs. CHCS works with state and federal agencies, health plans, providers, and community-based organizations to advance innovative and cost-effective models for organizing, financing, and delivering health care services. For more information, visit www.chcs.org.