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In 2020, Pennsylvania was awarded an implementation grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, which focuses on a strategic planning initiative to expand access to high-quality services for our prenatal-to-age-three population. The overall goal for the initiative is to increase the number of Pennsylvania low-income infants and toddlers, as well as their families, receiving high-quality services by 25% by 2023 and 50% by 2025. In addition to increasing access to high-quality services, the prenatal-to-three collaborative is focused on ensuring equitable inclusion for all services and across the policy focus areas. Recognizing people of color are disproportionately more likely to have poor health outcomes, access to employment, and access to high-quality early care and education experiences, this work will continue to uplift policies that breakdown those systemic inequalities.

Six Focus Areas

  • Child Care
  • Evidence-Based Home Visiting
  • Maternal and Child Health
    • Children’s Health Insurance
    • Lead Screening and Abatement
    • Child Nutrition
    • Prenatal/Maternal Health

With Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children leading the statewide work, Allies for Children leads the nutrition component of a statewide grant from Pritzker Family Foundation around building a public policy agenda for children prenatal through age three. As a part of this three-year grant awarded to the state of Pennsylvania, Allies for Children is leading partners in efforts to modernize and rejuvenate the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Since beginning this work in 2020, work has included placing state budget hearing questions around WIC data and transparency in February, 2020. In late May 2020, Allies for Children led an organizational sign-on letter effort calling for the extension of several USDA waivers allowing WIC to continue operating safely during the COVID-19 crisis. Pennsylvania WIC has publicly posted its policies and procedures manual in addition to the monthly publication of county-level data, broken down by race and participant type. This achievement is foundational, as it reveals regions of the state and particular populations requiring more intensive outreach, and informs targeted recommendations going forward.

Pennsylvania WIC, together with West Virginia WIC, received a $2 million Innovation Grant from the USDA to provide local WIC agencies with access to the Health Information Exchange (HIE), as well as establish WIC Medical Liaisons in both states. This dovetails with efforts to promote telehealth and reduce barriers to WIC participation.

In May 2021, As part of ThrivingPA, Allies for Children and Pennsylvania Partnership produced a policy brief, aimed at reaching policymakers, that highlights the top recommendations for modernizing the program and boosting WIC participation over the next two years. Federal and state recommendations include:

  • Technology Improvements
    • Mobile App Development and smart card Improvement
    • Telehealth
    • Invest in WIC Online Purchasing
    • Establish a Technology and Innovation Workgroup
  • Coordination and Partnerships
    • Health are Provider Partnerships and Co-Location
    • Adjunctive Eligibility
  • Certification, Eligibility and Targeted Outreach
    • Expand Eligibility and Streamline Certification
    • Targeted Outreach

As part of the leadership team for the Pennsylvania Pritzker Prenatal to Three grant, Allies for Children has joined partners and launched a statewide maternal and child health campaign, Thriving PA, in April of 2021. This platform unifies children’s health work and comprises insurance, lead poisoning, nutrition, and maternal health. Galvanizing forces around maternal and child health statewide and elevating the work to the level of a formalized campaign is an important step forward as the organization works to connect valuable early childhood and children’s health programs, and aims to ensure all Pennsylvania children thrive.