Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Author: Daniela Lewy and Amelia Vaughn, Social Determinants of Health Consulting and Rachel Yard, Center for Health Care Strategies

January 2019 |


Early childhood development has a dramatic effect on future adult populations, as the brain experiences its most rapid growth from ages 0-3. Medicaid covers nearly half of all children ages 0-5, putting it in a unique position to improve future population health by supporting early childhood interventions. Such interventions should address physical health and mental health as well as the social determinants of health affecting the family unit — all of which may be accomplished by breaking down silos across sectors to work together.

This brief is part of the Medicaid Early Childhood Innovation Lab, a national initiative that assisted five pilot sites in pursuing Medicaid-driven strategies to support young children and their families, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The brief outlines three of the sites’ activities to help inform other cross-sector partnerships at varying stages of development – problem identification, program design, and program implementation.

Coming Soon

CHCS, in partnership with the National Association of Medicaid Directors and ZERO TO THREE, and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will be launching Aligning Early Childhood and Medicaid. The new initiative will bring together a set of states with a demonstrated interest in and/or prior commitment to improving outcomes for low-income infants, young children, and families. Look for more information from CHCS in March 2019.