Child Health

December 22, 2006 4:47am CST
Child Health. Industrialization in the late nineteenth century forced many children into hazardous labor in mills, mines, and factories. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt convened the first White House Conference on Care of Dependent Children, which called attention to the unacceptably high rate of infant deaths and the detrimental effects of child labor. This led to the creation of the Children's Bureau in 1912 to "serve all children, to try to work out standards of care and protection which shall give to every child his fair chance in the world." Both the establishment of the Children's Bureau and the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act met with formidable resistance. They were seen by many as governmental intrusion into the relationship between children and their parents, and they were opposed by the American Medical Association (AMA) because of their potential for governmental interference or control over the practice of medicine—despite an endorsement from the Pediatric Section, which split off from the AMA in 1930 to form the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Sheppard-Towner Act was over-turned in 1929. The enactment of Title V in 1935, however, expanded health and social services to mothers and children. Medicaid was enacted in 1965 as a federal-state partnership to fund health services for low-income families with children. The Head Start program, launched in 1965, provided an intellectually stimulating and healthful environment for preschool children. The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program was created in 1967 to fund preventive health services for Medicaid-eligible children, including physical and developmental exams, vision and hearing screening, dental referrals, and immunizations. These advances were followed, however, by a downsizing of federal involvement and the return of power and responsibility for MCH policies to the states in the 1980s. The most significant change was the consolidation of seven categorical MCH programs into the MCH Services Block Grant. Health care coverage for children was re-expanded in 1997 with the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
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