By Arturo Brito, MD, MPH, President and CEO, Children’s Health Fund
New York City is one of the world’s most resourced cities. So why is it that every year close to 50,000 children and youth in our city go without healthcare, one of their most essential needs?
Lack of insurance coverage, economic poverty, homelessness, and lack of documentation—all outside of any child’s control—are just some of the many reasons that children in NYC may be unable to see a doctor, dentist, or mental health provider that they need to lead healthy lives, learn, and build strong futures.
I know that, in our city and across the country, we can build a better reality for our children.
This is what drives the work of our organization, Children’s Health Fund (CHF). We lead a national network of providers that bring comprehensive healthcare to children growing up in poor and under-resourced communities across NYC and the country; and we advocate for the health and well-being of all children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. You may have seen one of our big blue mobile clinics—doctors’ offices on wheels—driving around the Bronx or Harlem to provide quality healthcare to kids directly in their neighborhoods, schools, or shelters. If it weren’t for CHF, many of these children would suffer needlessly from preventable and manageable childhood illnesses that can have lifelong consequences.
Our work is based on the knowledge that the best way to ensure children receive essential health services is to deliver it to them, directly where they live, learn, and play. This approach was inspired by the children right here in NYC in 1987 when three Upper West Siders, our founders— singer-songwriter Paul Simon, Dr. Irwin Redlener, and Karen Redlener—custom-designed and rolled out our first mobile medical clinic to provide healthcare to the thousands of children then living in the city’s homeless shelters and welfare hotels.
Today, our fleet of 50 mobile clinics go to more than 400 schools, shelters, and other community sites nationwide, providing medical, dental, mental, and social services to low-income children. In 2022, more than 138,000 children received care from our national network providers through nearly 500,000 clinical visits.
While we help improve the health of children across the country, our NYC roots are what guide our mission and where we lead from. Here in NYC, we:
- Partner with our flagship program, the Bronx Health Collective, a federally qualified health center started by CHF in 1989, to deliver care at its state-of-the-art, fixed-site clinic and through three mobile clinics that 36 years later continue to bring healthcare to children and their families in homeless shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
- Address health barriers to learning through our unique Healthy and Ready to Learn program, headquartered in our Morningside Heights office and developed by CHF in 2014, by providing resources and training to educators and parents in schools across the city, and advocate creating healthier school environments so that health issues don’t get in the way of children’s education.
- Develop cutting-edge tools and software through our Innovation Lab, also based in our Harlem headquarters, to address fundamental inequities in healthcare technology so to better serve historically underserved populations and the providers who care for them.
As our city continues to face challenging times, countless children throughout our communities—especially newly-arrived immigrants, children living in shelters, and children experiencing poverty—will need access to quality care to stay healthy, happy, and growing strong. CHF prides itself on listening to the needs of our fellow New Yorkers, and we rely on the support of our neighbors to meet those needs. You can help CHF and our partners give our city’s children the care they need through the winter months ahead and all year with a donation to CHF. Support children’s health this season by visiting www.childrenshealthfund.org/donate or using the QR code below.
Give easily with the QR code above to support children’s health this winter.