REACH: Promoting Healthy Development


Diseases that once spread quickly and killed thousands are now largely controlled by vaccines. Vaccines are given early in life because many of the diseases they prevent are more common, and more deadly, among young children.61 The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends immunizing children against most vaccine-preventable diseases by the time they are two years old.62

By definition, protecting children against severe illnesses is a way of guarding their precious physical health. But early immunizations also have other benefits for children, their schools and communities. Children who have been immunized attend school more regularly.63 And because it is unlikely that a child who has been immunized against a disease will transmit it to someone else, immunization protects not just individual schoolchildren but their classmates and others in the community, including children who for health reasons cannot receive a particular vaccine.64 Still another benefit of early immunizations is that they are a sign that the young children who receive them are also more likely to be receiving other kinds of regular medical care.

In Virginia, the Division of Immunization (DOI) of the Virginia Department of Health works to raise childhood immunization rates in Virginia. The Virginia Vaccines for Children’s (VVFC) program is one example of the Virginia Department of Health’s efforts. Through utilization of private and public providers, the VVFC program and DOI reduce barriers to immunizations. The DOI supplies federally and state purchased vaccines at no cost to public and private health care providers.

VVFC currently has over 900 facilities enrolled in the program as either a private facility or a public facility.65

Vaccine Compliance* at School Entry

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Health, Division of Immunization, Annual Immunization Survey. *Compliance refers to children receiving the 44232 series (4 Tdap, 4 polio, 2 MMR, 3 HepB, 2 Varicella) prior to school entry.66

Access to Health Insurance

Although health insurance alone does not guarantee access to health care, children with coverage are more likely to be offered early and preventive treatment for illnesses and conditions that can otherwise cause long-lasting damage.67 Health insurance also greatly increases the chances that children will have access to the kind of regular source of health care that helps to ensure good outcomes.68 A survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control showed that children with private insurance were nine times more likely to have a usual health care source than children with no insurance.

The quality of children’s health has implications for their chances of school success. If children are healthy, they can learn with fewer distractions of illness, pain, or fatigue. Moreover, poor health, physical problems, and developmental challenges make it more difficult for children to attend school regularly and to adapt to the school setting.69

In Virginia, the number and percentage of uninsured children declined each year between 2006 and 2010, the most recent year for which these data were available. There were an estimated 133,975 uninsured children ages 18 years and under living in Virginia in 2010.

Number and Percentage of Uninsured Children <19 Years, Virginia

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Insurance Estimates:

Part C (Early Intervention)

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B, while infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families are offered early intervention services, which are guided by individualized family service plans, under IDEA Part C.70

Part C services are critical to ensuring that problems are identified and addressed before they worsen and become more difficult to treat. For example, for the children in the 0-3 age group who are old enough to speak, a common Part C intervention is to provide them with expert help in tackling speech or communication problems – and in some cases once the children have been given this help, they do not need additional special education services by the time they enter elementary school.71

In Virginia, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHD) has been designated by the Governor as the lead agency for Part C. Part C refers to the federal legislation that provides partial funding for the special services needed by children birth to age three. In Virginia, children who are functioning at 25% or more below their chronological age, show atypical development, or have a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay are eligible for these services. In Virginia, families have the option to transition their two-year old children from Part C early intervention services to Part B special education services.

In the fall of 2011, Virginia was serving 8,384 children through Part C, representing 2.77% of the birth to age 2 population.72


The Virginia Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is administered by the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Community Nutrition. WIC provides nutrition education, breast feeding promotion and support, supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling at WIC clinics, and screening and referrals to other health, welfare, and social services. The WIC program serves low-income, nutritionally at-risk:

The WIC program has a well-documented positive impact on children’s health, which emphasizes the significance and importance of the program’s participation levels. Research has shown that children participating in WIC are more likely to receive necessary immunizations and consistent medical care. Research has also show children who are eligible for but not receiving WIC are more likely to be underweight and at risk for developmental delays.74

Since October 1, 2010 the Virginia Department of Health also administers the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). CACFP provides year-round funding to eligible child care, family day care, Head Start, at-risk after school care, emergency shelter and adult care centers. This funding is used to provide nutritious meals and snacks to lower income participants in these care programs. The SFSP provides federal funding to eligible sponsor organizations to provide meals and snacks to lower income children during the summer months when school is not in session.75

Number of Children Birth to 5 Years Served by the Virginia WIC Program

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Health, Division of Community Nutrition

PDF version of official printed report.

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