Parents and caretakers seen in the emergency departments and acute care centers at the Children's HealthWatch sites are low to moderate income earners. Many of them experience challenging situations in their homes due to poverty and its associated consequences. Through the Children's HealthWatch research survey instrument, many families are identified needing basic services such as adequate housing, food, and child care.
Each Children's HealthWatch medical center has devised an outreach program to provide information and link families to important services in the community. Outreach efforts range from walking a family to the medical center on-site health insurance office, to acting as a family advocate at the local welfare office, or assisting a local health center in tracking down a patient at-risk for growth problems who had been lost to follow-up.
The following is an example of a Children's HealthWatch outreach case story:
Linda, a nurse, has three children: a newborn, a seven year old, and a 12 year old autistic son. Linda was assaulted at work during her pregnancy by a patient and as a result had pregnancy complications. She had to stop working. Her primary concern now is with housing. She owns part of a co-op but because of her illness, and now her newborn is sick, she has fallen behind on her mortgage payments. She appeared at a court summons and managed to pay a small amount of her debt allowing her an extension to pay the rest. Our outreach worker researched local emergency housing grants and referred Linda to a local housing assistance program. Linda is a good candidate for this grant because she has recently gone back to work part time and will be able to support herself after the grant is awarded. Linda is also receiving Food Stamps and it was suggested that she also apply for fuel assistance and child care vouchers. Our outreach worker provided Christmas gifts to Linda for her children during this time.