Jeff Kaczorowski, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, will serve as Vice-Chair of a new state initiative that focuses on improving health and educational outcomes in the first three years of a child life.
The “First 1000 Days on Medicaid” initiative, announced last Thursday at the state’s annual Medicaid conference, aims to improve access to high-quality health care and community resources, such as home visitation, early intervention, developmental screening, and various educational programs. In New York State, 59 percent of children ages 0-3 are covered by Medicaid.
“Eighty-five percent of brain development happens in the first three years of life, and Medicaid has a responsibility to these children,” said Jason Helgerson, New York State Medicaid Director, in his State of the State of Medicaid address on Thursday.
Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of The State University of New York, will Chair the committee; Kate Breslin, president and CEO of Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, will serve alongside Kaczorowski as the initiative’s Vice Chairs. The diverse backgrounds of the leadership committee are representative of what the state hopes to accomplish in launching the initiative.
“Traditionally, we’ve considered young children as if what’s needed for health and education is different,” said Kaczorowski. “But rather than saying ‘This area is part of health, and this other area is part of education,’ this initiative is about taking away those categories and all working together to make sure kids get the right, healthy start in life and are ready for kindergarten and future success.”
Kaczorowski was honored to be approached for the role, but said that the state’s decision to include him was more of a testament to all the contributions that the University of Rochester Medical Center, and the region as a whole, continue to make to this area of children’s health.
“The Nurse-Family Partnership is a superb model for home visitation, Mt. Hope Family Center is a national leader in trauma-informed care and intervention for children, and the Children’s Institute has driven the development of some of the highest-quality Pre-K programs in the country,” said Kaczorowski. “We’ve really had a strong focus on early childhood education and care in this community, and I hope I can bring some of those successes to the state.”
Kaczorowski, a pediatrician at URMC since 1991, also serves as National Director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Community Pediatrics Training Initiative. Locally, he is Senior Advisor to the Children’s Agenda, and co-chair of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative’s Health & Nutrition workgroup.