It’s Child Health Day, a federal observance day the purpose of which, according to the 1928 presidential proclamation, is to “acquaint the people of the Nation with the fundamental necessity of a year-round program for the protection and development of the health of the Nation’s children”. Child Health Day has been around for 75 years and since that time child health outcomes have certainly improved.
But not for everyone. There still exist today startling disparities in health affecting minority groups and populations in low-income communities. Children who have experienced homelessness are disproportionately impacted by health problems including higher rates of asthma, anemia, dental caries, ear infections and stomach problems. Probably not surprisingly, children who have experienced homelessness are also less likely to receive regular medical care.
At our Play House programs we can see evidence of these disparities first-hand. While the vast majority of families have some form of medical insurance (usually Medi-CAL) at enrollment or receive it shortly thereafter, periods without insurance or an inability to seek out preventive care may have already taken a toll. For many of our young children, health challenges add another set of obstacles that they will have to overcome just to get to the place where other children started from.