This post was authored by Greg Irace, Senior Vice President, Global Services, Sanofi
As part of Sanofi’s partnership with Children’s Health Fund (CHF), and our role as part of the CHF Corporate Council, we are committed to helping every child in every neighborhood have access to proper medical care. Across the U.S., we are witnessing a health crisis in the classroom. Health-related barriers to learning are keeping kids from doing well in school, and children living in poverty are getting hit the hardest. Asthma is one of the most chronic diseases among children, and each year asthma causes 10 million missed school days. With 1 in 5 American children living in poverty, kids across the country are not getting the medical attention they need to detect and treat health conditions that impact their development and success in school.
Earlier this year, I spent the morning with CHF Executive Director, Karen Redlener, and colleagues from both Sanofi and CHF at the South Bronx Center for Child Health and Resiliency, which is part of CHF’s New York Program’s newest health center, dedicated to improving the health, cognitive and emotional development of vulnerable children and youth.
While centers like the one in the South Bronx are models for state-of-the-art care, not all children have access to similar facilities. In many of those situations, CHF brings the care to them through their mobile medical fleet across the United States. The mobile medical clinics, in conjunction with their care coordination model, provide access to comprehensive care for children who need it most.
Building on decades of experience caring for vulnerable kids, CHF launched the Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative in September 2014 to meet some of the needs for this crisis. For example, visual impairments correlate with lower literacy scores, yet over 20 percent of students struggle to see. Lower income kids are less likely to get the glasses or other help they need. Working together with educators, healthcare providers and parents, CHF is leading a growing movement to ensure that all kids are healthy so they can succeed in school and life. The Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative is designed to break down the walls between health care and education by identifying and addressing health problems at school. It focuses on eight key health barriers to learning—uncontrolled asthma, fatigue, vision loss, hearing loss, social stress, hunger, behavioral problems, and dental pain—that keep kids from succeeding. Without a successful education, these children are caught in a cycle of oppressive poverty that prevents them from reaching their full potential.
For example, P.S. 140, the Eagle School in the South Bronx, New York, is one of three schools supported by CHF through Healthy and Ready to Learn. Nearly 90% of students at P.S. 140 are eligible for the free/reduced lunch program, which is a proxy indicator of poverty. Last year, the school’s chronic absenteeism rate, defined as missing 18 school days or more each year, was 44.3%, more than double the average rate of 21.6% for all New York City public schools. CHF is committed to improving those statistics and continues to implement pilot projects, which are helping to design a scalable program that any school, city or state can use to ensure all students are healthy and ready to learn. At the launch of Healthy and Ready to Learn at P.S. 140, CHF provided vision screening for 644 students out of a total enrollment of 647, and 107 students were identified as needing prescription glasses. CHF made sure that each child received two pair of glasses, one for home and for school, at no cost to their families.
I look forward to sharing more updates throughout 2015. To learn more about Children’s Health Fund, click here.