Initiatives aim to improve child health and welfare in Arizona


Hannah Saunders


Health leaders met at the 2024 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference this month to discuss initiatives their organizations are working on to improve child health and welfare.

Chy Porter is the children’s system of care program administrator at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). She said there is a disconnect among certain aspects of the state’s healthcare system. Porter said AHCCCS is working to decrease this by improving coordination of care, with communication being a top priority.

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Porter said youth spend a lot of time in their homes or at school, and AHCCCS has an amazing behavioral health initiative in schools, where AHCCCS covers medically-necessary behavioral health services for students enrolled in Medicaid.

“[With] youth between the ages of six to 17, one in six [that] are currently experiencing a mental health disorder, (according to) NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness],” Porter said. “We have created what is called the open care system, and this is Medicaid school-based claiming.”

According to Porter, school districts that serve 85 percent of Arizona students on Medicaid were signed up, and she hopes to see that number rise to 100 percent. 

Sandra Zebrowski, vice president and medical director of public markets, quality and clinical programs at Magellan, said Magellan serves about 3,000 children, and it partners with health plans to provide early screenings, maternal health, and solutions to many challenges children face in the child welfare system.

Zebrowski discussed a program Magellan has operated in Louisiana since 2016 that has shown promise, known as the High Fidelity Wraparound program. 

“It’s an evidence-based model of intensive care coordination that enlists the support of families who have lived experience with parenting difficulty, complex children, and they’re in the position of coordinating care among multiple systems the child is involved in. There’s a lot of parent caregiver support, and a lot of support for the youth that are in the program,” Zebrowski said. 

Youth tend to stay in the program for six to nine months, and Zebrowski said that parent satisfaction regarding the program is around 90 percent. She said the program has enabled parents to feel more empowered to navigate the systems of care, services, and supports that they didn’t previously have.

“Another terrific outcome is 77 percent show significant improvement using the child adolescent needs assessment monitor score. So we feel like it’s been a really successful program to avoid the need for higher levels of care and displacement of children in child welfare,” Zebrowski said. 

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