WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $97,500 in Affordable Care Act funds to the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey (SPAN), a Family-to-Family Health Information Center in Newark that specializes in supporting families with children with special health care needs, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced today. In February, Menendez introduced the Family-to-Family Health Information Resource Center Extension Act to secure this critical federal funding, which is set to expire at the end of this year, through 2015.
“For New Jersey families who have children with special health care needs, seeking appropriate health care and educational services is a difficult and confusing process. That’s why it’s critical we continue funding Family-to-Family Health Information Centers that can offer much-needed assistance during a very trying time,” said Menendez. “I’m proud to fight for this funding so parents can focus more on the well-being of their children rather than navigate through a complex health care system of organizations that often have multiple different eligibility criteria and coverage standards.”
“These family-to-family information centers are vital resources for New Jersey parents, providing their special needs children with health care and educational services,” said Lautenberg. “I will continue to fight to support these crucial programs funded by the health care reform law so that all New Jersey children receive the care and education they deserve.”
Diana Autin, Co-Director of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, said of the funding: “As New Jersey’s Family to Family Health Information Center, the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network is thrilled with today’s announcement of funding for F2Fs around the country under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Families of children with special health care needs struggle with all of the daily issues all families face, but also must deal with navigating multiple health insurance, health care, and other service delivery systems, to ensure that our children can grow up to be productive and contributing members of our society. We are particularly thankful for Senator Menendez’s leadership in being the prime sponsor for continued funding for the F2Fs, including SPAN, when the current funding stream ends a year from now. Without that funding, tens of thousands of NJ families – and families across the country – would lose access to the key supports that have helped them help their children.”
Created in 2005, Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) are staffed by both health care professionals and family members of children with special health care needs with extensive experience and training in navigating public and private health care systems. There is currently an F2F HIC in every state and the District of Columbia. The program is currently funded at $5 million a year, with individual, competitively awarded grants averaging about $95,700. Even with this limited funding, the F2F HICs have assisted 940,000 families and trained 428,000 health professionals nationwide.
For more information on the program, and other HRSA maternal and child health programs, visit http://www.mchb.hrsa.gov/.