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Maintaining strong educational programs in MCH is critical to the national public health enterprise. Demographic shifts and the passage of the Affordable Care Act underscore the importance of the theoretical and applied perspectives of MCH:
- As the percentage of the elderly population increases, the burden of chronic illness will place increasing demands on services and healthcare funding. Research is now supporting the concept that much of this burden can be prevented, or at least postponed, with early interventions in childhood and adolescence.
- Among developed countries, the US ranks quite low in child health indicators such as infant mortality, low birth weight, perinatal mortality and preventable deaths. This has long-term implications for the individual child's health, but also the health of the next generation of children through poor health among women.
- The increasing diversity of American children requires thoughtful and culturally competent approaches to understanding their needs and developing effective interventions.
- Diversity also includes the variety of abilities that children have, and there is a need for professionals with the knowledge and skills to develop approaches to maximize the functioning of all children—including those with special needs—to lead productive lives.
- Addressing the needs of children means working across service sectors. We need professionals with knowledge of social services, educational services, nutritional and other services, and the commitment and skills to develop integrated systems of care.
- Finally, the delivery and financing of services for children and families is quite complex. Not only do we have several different funding streams for healthcare, but funding for essential services may come from multiple sectors. There must be professionals fluent in the issues of organizing packages of services with different funding streams, while improving the quality of those services, so all children and their families have access to appropriate care and services.
Currently, MCHB supports over 120 MCH Training Programs at institutions of higher learning across the United States. These programs reflect MCHB's vision for the 21st century, in which all children, youth, and families will live and thrive in healthy communities served by a quality workforce that helps assure their health and wellbeing. According to this vision, every family deserves:
- Quality health systems that are responsive and affordable
- Programs that reflect the priority health needs of families
- The coordination of health services with community and educational programs in order to support an integrated approach to promoting the health, social and motional wellbeing, and educational outcomes of all children and their families.
In order to help attain this vision, MCHB supports workforce preparation and training through its MCH training programs.