(Oklahoma City)—The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced Oklahoma-based community health center Variety Care has been awarded $200,000 to improve early childhood developmental outcomes.
“Across the U.S., less than 37 percent of young children receive a recommended screening from a healthcare provider, and that number is even lower in Oklahoma,” said Lou Carmichael, CEO of Variety Care. “We must identify and remove the barriers that prevent families from obtaining quality health care for their at-risk children,” she added.
Many of the individuals residing in Variety Care’s service areas experience barriers to accessing primary care, including developmental screenings for children aged 0-5. These barriers include being uninsured or underinsured; poverty; lack of transportation; language or cultural barriers; and low health literacy or understanding of the importance of developmental screenings.
Developmental screening for children is a necessary component of primary care and identifies children at risk for cognitive, motor, language or social-emotional delays. Developmental screening can identify learning disorders, developmental delays and social-emotional problems.
“When children receive timely intervention, they are better prepared to enter school and more likely to experience school success,” said Dr. Jason Graham, director of Pediatrics for Variety Care. “Starting a conversation with a primary care provider early prevents problems later in life,” Dr. Graham added.
Variety Care will use the award to advance early child developmental outcomes through workforce recruitment, retention, development, and engagement; access to care and the affordability of care; the patient/caregiver experience; and population health and health-related social needs.
“This award is a testament to the successful interventions our Care Teams, along with the support of dozens of partners across central Oklahoma, are already making to establish a foundation for health that will allow children to thrive as they grow into adults,” said Carmichael. “With this funding, we can strengthen our interventions and reduce barriers to care for more Oklahoma children.”
Variety Care will collaborate with community partners to increase access to developmental screenings and referrals for children aged 0-5. The health center follows the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics for developmental screening at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months, with additional screening as needed. Population groups to be served include the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved in Central and Western Oklahoma.
Parents or guardians can visit varietycare.org for more information. To schedule an appointment, call (405) 632-6688.
Variety Care, Inc. is Oklahoma’s largest community health center with 18 sites in central and western Oklahoma. Variety Care served 79,000 patients in 2022 and provided comprehensive and coordinated social services to over 200,000 people through face-to-face and group visits. A United Way partner agency, Variety Care serves all patients, regardless of insurance status, and strives to make health care affordable and accessible for everyone. The Variety Care Foundation provides philanthropic support and community awareness for Variety Care and its efforts. For more information, please visit varietycare.org.