Intergenerational Family Services in 200 Words

To our readers: Welcome to the first post in a new series we’re calling “____ in 200 Words.” In this series, we’ll tackle issues related to children’s health policy and explain and connect you to resources to help understand them further, all in 200 words. We hope this series will allow us to respond even faster to the issues you’re following with perspective from PolicyLab’s diverse faculty. If you have any suggestions for a topic in this series, please send a note to PolicyLab’s Communications Manager Lauren Walens.

With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in question, we have an opportunity in pediatric care to address the needs of parents and caregivers whose own access to medical and social support may be in jeopardy. While intergenerational family services are not a new concept, a growing national movement recognizes that family-centered programs help children do better. For caregivers who face barriers to their own health care access, pediatric care is a crucial opportunity to reach families where they are already present. Fortunately, there is growing evidence around interventions that address caregivers’ needs in partnership with pediatric settings, including mental health screening and treatment, social risk interventions such as food insecurity screening, home visiting programs, vaccination programs and smoking cessation interventions.

While an intergenerational approach may seem intuitive, there are real administrative and capacity challenges to building caregiver services into pediatric settings. Recent federal attention on this issue has provided opportunities to address these challenges, including through reimbursement reform, clinical-community linkages and home visiting services. With ACA repeal and greater coverage fragmentation now on the horizon, PolicyLab is committed to continuing to find opportunities to implement and evaluate programs that support healthier families, caregivers and their children.