The Illinois Children’s Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus established to review early childhood development. Members explore evidence-based policies and programs to achieve health equity for children, families, and communities throughout the state.
This caucus consists of a bipartisan group of Illinois legislators from the House and Senate. The caucus is made up of four members, including Rep. Kevin Schmidt (R-Cahokia Heights) and Senate Republican Dale Fowler.
“The Children’s Health Caucus is dedicated to breaking down barriers and creating a healthier, more equitable future for Illinois children and families,” Rep. Schmidt said. “Child health is not just a matter of policy; it’s a reflection of our values as a society. We must make health equity for children a reality in Illinois.”
The Children’s Health Caucus convened its first meeting on April 24. Lawmakers in attendance learned about the challenges children in Illinois face in gaining access to child-focused specialty care, which includes pediatric mental health providers, pediatric dentists, pediatric occupational therapists, neurologists, and surgeons.
“Investments in adolescent health support the long-term economic and social well-being of our state,” Rep. Schmidt said. “I’m excited to see how my colleagues and I can work together to champion this cause and better the lives of children across Illinois.”
The Children’s Health Caucus believes that:
- Every Illinois child should receive meaningful, timely, equitable access to appropriate, high value, quality health care with the state working to reduce health disparities.
- Every Illinois child should be protected from injury, abuse, neglect, and crime.
- Poor child health is often attributable to poverty and other social determinants of health such as racism, education, recreational opportunities, and other circumstances.
- Unaddressed childhood health issues can have negative implications across a person’s lifespan.
Children treated by specialty providers who have training in pediatrics or child health and development have better outcomes than children who are treated by other specialists. Nearly 20 percent of children in Illinois have a special health care need, and 37 percent are covered by Medicaid. All children, whether they are insured by Medicaid, uninsured, or insured commercially, may have difficulty accessing specialty services they need because of geographic access issues, low income, insurance-related barriers, inadequate communication about what is needed, wait lists, lack of access to and availability of appropriate primary care, or the fact that the health system remains largely designed around the needs of adult patients.
“A child’s well-being extends beyond their early years. Unaddressed childhood health issues have a lasting impact. We must act now to secure their future,” Rep. Schmidt said. “Let’s bridge the gap to ensure all Illinois children have access to these vital services.”
The Children’s Health Caucus will review:
- Early Childhood Development.
- Physical, social, and emotional health and well-being of Illinois children and adolescents.
- Evidence-based policies and programs to achieve health equity for children, families, and communities throughout the state.