Penn State has improved in child well-being according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state has improved in rank from the 17th to the 16th at present.
York County is working towards improving its own numbers. The state offers plenty of health insurance options for children, though there are still many uninsured kids according to Jenny Englerth - the CEO of Family First Health - a community centre in York City.
There is a slight increase in the number of uninsured children which may be due to policy changes. Gov. Tom Corbett had signed a legislation to extend the state's Children's Health Insurance Program till 2015. He also eliminated the 6 month waiting period for subsidized health insurance. Some parents would forget to insure children which again left them without health insurance.
"We are just now starting to see positive effects from that (law)," said Englerth.
York has done a lot to address gaps in health coverage, Englerth said. And in general, its coverage and patient access are "further ahead of the curve" than the rest of the state, she said.
The health of low-income residents and city residents is not the best even now.
"It's access, and it's just the general environment in which they live," she said. The environment has high levels of stress, substance abuse, mental health issues and not enough physical activity with the right nutrition.
"In Pennsylvania, we struggle because we want to uphold children's health, but we can't leave adults in the family behind," said Englerth.
Englerth along with other stakeholders have formed the Maternal Child Work Group with the hope of addressing children's health right from the stage of pregnancy of the mother.
They aim to tackle issues like low birth weight and infant mortality. "I expect good things to happen as a result," said Barbara Kovacs - director of the York City Bureau of Health.
She felt poor nutrition and tobacco use during pregnancy were the cause of low birth rate and premature weight and infant death.
Another health initiative, Eat Play Breathe York has already wrought change in healthy eating, increased physical activity and lesser tobacco use and exposure among York residents.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Mollie Durkin, August 2014