Posted in: Madison Park
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April 12, 2024
Three pictures of families, adults and children.
This week, NCDHHS updated its Early Childhood Action Plan to address key actions the department is taking to improve early childhood development in North Carolina. 

Gov. Cooper has proclaimed this week as Week of the Young Child in North Carolina and the updated action plan includes efforts to improve children’s behavioral health and support the department’s mission to ensure all children get a healthy start in life and develop to their full potential in safe and nurturing families, schools and communities.  

The updated plan describes the actions by NCDHHS to address key concerns, such as increasing access to contraception, enhancing NCDHHS food and nutrition programs, deploying regional child welfare permanency specialists to county departments of social services and working to enhance early childhood teacher compensation. 

With Medicaid Expansion's launch on Dec. 1, 2023, more than 100,000 low-income parents now have health coverage. Children are more likely to receive check-ups and preventative health care when their parents are insured. Additionally, children’s health and well-being improve when their parents have physical and mental health care. 

You can read more about the updated Early Childhood Action Plan in a news release
Cartoon people on a ladder with a heart in front of a brain.
NCDHHS Invests $15 Million in Nine Behavioral Health Urgent Care Centers
This week, NCDHHS announced a two-year plan to invest approximately $15 million in nine behavioral health urgent care centers across North Carolina. This investment will increase the state’s capacity to provide behavioral health urgent care by nearly 50%. One of the department's priorities is improving behavioral health and resilience. Investing in the transformation of NC's behavioral crisis response system ensures people experiencing a behavioral health emergency have alternatives to emergency departments when seeking the care they need. As an alternative to emergency departments, behavioral health urgent cares offer 24-hour access to mental health specialists who can assist with diagnosis and assessment, medication management and treatment options – getting people the right care at the right time and in the right setting. Over the next two years, NCDHHS will partner with the state’s Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organizations to expand nine behavioral health urgent care facilities in Alamance, Buncombe, Caldwell, Haywood, Onslow, Pitt, Rockingham, Rowan and Vance counties. The new facilities will join a current network of behavioral health urgent care centers in Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Randolph, Richmond and Wake counties.
Five blue pinwheels.
Recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month
Gov. Cooper has declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, recognizing the role everyone plays in helping North Carolina’s children reach their full potential. This Child Abuse Prevention Month, community organizations, government agencies, businesses, faith groups and other stakeholders will come together to focus on creating partnerships to prevent child maltreatment from occurring and the importance of building hope for children and families. This year’s theme for Child Abuse Prevention Month is "Building A Hopeful Future Together." NCDHHS and Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina (formerly Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina) recognize that every single child is filled with tremendous promise, and all North Carolinians are responsible for defending and nurturing that potential. In collaboration with statewide partners like NCDHHS, PCANC is championing a new theory of change in North Carolina, which aims to build the well-being of our state’s children and families. Read a news release for ways you can help NCDHHS and PCANC advance family-centered prevention programs and policies.
A puzzle with a piece that reads Medicaid.
Tailored Plans for Behavioral Health and I/DD Launch July 1
Eligible North Carolinians covered by NC Medicaid Direct will be covered by a Tailored Plan beginning July 1. Tailored Plans are a new kind of NC Medicaid Managed Care health plan for approximately 210,000 beneficiaries with a serious mental illness, a serious emotional disturbance, a severe substance use disorder, an intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD) or a traumatic brain injury in North Carolina. They will cover doctor visits, prescription drugs and services for mental health, substance use, I/DD and traumatic brain injury in one plan. Tailored Plans will also provide services that support well-being, such as food, transportation and housing. The name of the Medicaid plan will change but the services covered remain the same. A bilingual toolkit with accessible resources is now available for people impacted by the transition to Tailored Plans. The NC Medicaid Enrollment Broker will mail a letter in mid-April to anyone moving to a Tailored Plan. Tailored Plan beneficiaries will need to choose a primary care provider (PCP) between April 15 and May 15, 2024. If the beneficiary doesn’t choose a PCP by May 15, the Tailored Plan will assign one to them. People can change their PCP through Jan. 31, 2025. Find more information about Tailored Plans on NCDHHS' Medicaid website
A teacher working with a young student.
NCDHHS to Participate in Child Care Forums in Vance and Granville Counties
Ariel Ford, NCDHHS' Director of Child Development and Early Education, will participate in two upcoming child care forums on April 30 and May 23 in Henderson and Oxford, respectively. The events seek to raise awareness of the state's child care crisis and the need for more child care opportunities in North Carolina that support children’s healthy development and learning, allowing parents to work and keep businesses running. Last year, 278 child care facilities closed in North Carolina and the demand for child care far surpasses the supply. A recent survey of North Carolina child care programs from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows that 60% of facilities report a staffing shortage and 55% are under-enrolled due to the lack of staff. Rural counties in North Carolina are disproportionately impacted. The April 30 event will be held at the Perry Memorial Library, 205 Breckenridge St. in Henderson from 6-7 p.m. The May 23 event will be held at the Grand at Oxford Days Inn & Suites, 913 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., in Oxford from 6-7 p.m. 
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