Campus News

Wells discusses difficulty in getting support for children with special health care needs

Rebecca Wells, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Public Health and the School of Social Work, was recently quoted in a HealthDay article about the struggle to get support for kids with special health care needs.

New research shows that as many as one in five kids living in the U.S. has special health care needs, and some of their caregivers struggle to get them the support and services they need. Those who do get support are likely to get it from the “medical home” model.

In this model, a pediatrician works to coordinate care with other specialists and providers. Kids who didn’t get consistent care through this model were less likely to have access preventive services, for example.

Wells, a study author, said although this model is often considered the golden standard, it’s not “one-size-fits-all.”

“Medical home-consistent care does not seem to be enough to guarantee positive outcomes for families dealing with more complex conditions, who have lower incomes, and whose children were uninsured or inconsistently insured through the year,” Wells said.

Where the children live in the U.S. is another significant factor, Wells said. For example, a child with autism and severe symptoms might really struggle in a rural county.

“They may need special therapies, support groups or respite that is just not available in their area,” she said.

In order to make sure children and families get the care they need, the U.S. needs to do more, starting with ensuring that all kids are insured and remain insured.

“We have private insurance, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in our country, yet children still can fall through the cracks if a caregiver loses a job or even if there is a paperwork error, or the caregiver gets confused about recertifying the child’s eligibility for state-sponsored health coverage,” Wells said.

The article continued to point out that things like increased funding to train health professionals who work with kids with special health care needs and incentives to work in underserved communities can potentially help close these gaps.