Medi-Cal Strategies and Options for Creating an Advanced Child Health Delivery System

Prepared on behalf of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, and Genentech Charitable Giving


By Jocelyn A. Guyer, Managing Director, Manatt Health | Alice J. Lam, Managing Director, Manatt Health | Madeleine Toups, Consultant, Manatt Health | Donna Cohen Ross, Independent Consultant, DCR Initiatives

California’s long-standing efforts to promote child development and kindergarten readiness are well established and have paved the way for focusing greater attention on the vital role child health can play in realizing the full strength of these critical state investments. As a large and diverse state, California has unparalleled reach: Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, covers 5 million children—more than the number of children covered by Medicaid in 23 other states combined.

Of particular importance, two-thirds of children with Medi-Cal coverage are Black and Brown, which is notable as the nation contends with its long-neglected obligation to advance racial justice and health equity. Policy and practice innovations originating in California and progress achieved for its young children and families have the capacity to demonstrate ways to make meaningful, positive changes for millions of others as well.

In “Strengthening the Social and Emotional Health of California’s Young Children: Medi-Cal Strategies and Options for Creating an Advanced Child Health Delivery System,” a new report commissioned by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, and Genentech Charitable Giving, Manatt Health—in partnership with DCR Initiatives and the Center for the Study of Social Policy—identifies concrete strategies for leveraging Medi-Cal to strengthen the social and emotional development of young children through pediatric primary care. The report, which seeks to take advantage of Medi-Cal’s potential to drive improvements in the health and development of young children as well as the Newsom administration’s strong interest in early childhood development, presents Medi-Cal policies and financing mechanisms that are central to the support of an equitable, advanced child health delivery system—a model rooted in whole-child, family-centered care that incorporates integrated care teams and community partners to provide the care that families with young children want and need. Though California-specific, states nationwide can leverage many of these Medicaid levers to support young children and their families.

To access the full report, click here. To access an executive summary, click here.

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