The passage of the Affordable Care Act and ongoing questions about the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program have dramatically altered the landscape of public coverage options for children and their families. While the nation is making historic progress in reducing the number of uninsured children and their parents, these enormous changes have been accompanied by incredibly complex policy challenges and politics. Progress for low-income children and their families varies by state, and more change lies ahead in the next decade. With enormously well-funded stakeholders in the health care industry and intense partisan conflicts at work, a robust and networked set of voices for children is an essential component of future health policy discussions to ensure that the needs of vulnerable children and families don’t get lost.
Several national foundations have together over the years supported the development of experienced and adaptive leaders – and their networks – to advocate on a host of children’s issues in states of varying political hues. To build on this work, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies have joined together to launch the Children’s Health Leadership Network, a leadership development program for advancing and networking leaders in the field of children’s health and well-being policy. With funding from these three foundations, this program will extend over a ten-year period, with the goal to have, by 2025, nearly 100 advocates serving throughout the country in various leadership capacities in states on behalf of the nation’s children. This collective of strong, adaptive and diverse leaders with experience in policy, advocacy and strategic communications will be positioned to inform policy and implementation to advance and protect the interests of children and families.
The Children’s Health Leadership Network will equip participants to leverage data, partnerships, personal power and organizational authority to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of child health policy and advocacy efforts and results; build and increase the public and political will needed to decrease outcome disparities and improve opportunity; develop stronger organization and system-level consensus about the pathway to results; better frame and describe incremental successes, especially when desired policy changes may take a long time to achieve; and influence and advance child health policy changes that ultimately benefit vulnerable children, their families and communities.
Over a series of nine seminars, the program will convene up to 15 advocates to broaden their vision, increase their base of knowledge, strengthen their existing networks and expand and refine the adaptive leadership skills critical to advancing their child health policy reform and advocacy results. Participants will learn and practice numerous leadership tools to affect systems change, and they will learn from and with a community of peers.
Participants will deepen their capacity to:
- be results based and data driven, establishing clear goals and using data to assess progress and change course as needed;
- bring attention to and act on disparities, recognizing that race, class and culture impact outcomes and opportunities for vulnerable children;
- use the self as an instrument of change to move a result based on the belief that individual leaders are capable of leading from whatever position they hold;
- master the skills of “adaptive leadership,” which makes leaders aware of the impact of values, habits, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors associated with taking action to improve results; and
- collaborate with others, understanding that the capacity to build consensus and make group decisions enables leaders to align their actions and move work forward to achieve results.
As a country we stand at a new starting line for policy and program implementation on a variety of children’s issues – many of them specific to children’s health. This initiative is designed to strengthen the skills of mid-level leaders and an emerging group of diverse, energetic and tech savvy mobilizers and organizers. Intentionally mentored, supported and networked, these leaders will become the next generation of powerful advocacy voices for children and families. Supporting emerging child health leaders not only increases the chances of better outcomes for kids, but also will be vitally important in moving the divisive discourse around politics to more common ground.
Download the Children’s Health Leadership Network flyer