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51 Sherbrooke W., Montreal, QC. Canada, H5Z 4T9.

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No child should go without medical treatment. All children in Allegheny County should have access to high quality medical care and insurance from birth. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health coverage provides children access to needed care and promotes improved health, education, and financial success over the long-term. Children with health coverage fare better on measures of access to care compared to uninsured children, and access for children with Medicaid and CHIP is comparable to access for children with private coverage along these measures. Imagine a county where all children have access to health insurance and medical care. While progress has been made, the uninsured rate continues to be too high for our children.

Health Insurance Enrollment

Although Pennsylvania made significant progress expanding access to affordable health insurance for children and families over the last two decades, some children do not have health care, despite qualifying for public health insurance programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. Currently, more than 9,000 children in Allegheny County are uninsured. These children are five times more likely to have unmet medical concerns, and three times more likely to not have access to prescription drugs, like asthma inhalers. Additionally, uninsured kids are 30 percent less likely to get medical treatment when injured.

So just how much is 9,000? Allegheny County’s uninsured children could:

• Form 900 Little League Teams
• Fill 152 School Busses
• Pack 360 Classrooms

To address this problem and expand access to affordable health insurance for children and families, Allies for Children partnered with the Office of Mayor William Peduto, the Allegheny County Health Department, the Consumer Health Coalition and Enroll America. The group developed a plan called Healthy Together and later received a $200,000 implementation grant from the National League of Cities to connect children to available health care coverage and ensure they received the basic services they need and deserve. Due to the success of the campaign, Pittsburgh was prominently featured  in reports about the national initiative. To continue advocacy efforts around healthcare, Allies for Children convened a Southwestern Pennsylvania coalition to educate legislators about the importance of both CHIP and Medicaid. Although recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and restrict federal funding failed, the coalition will continue its advocacy efforts to ensure children’s health is a priority among lawmakers.


To make Allegheny County a safer place to live and raise children, Allies for Children is working to advance policies that emphasize primary prevention of childhood lead poisoning. The Allegheny County Lead Task Force convened in May 2017 to review data on all sources of lead and provide a set of recommendations for further action. The Task Force concluded that both primary prevention and intervention strategies are required, but only primary prevention will lead to a continuing overall reduction in childhood lead exposure and should be prioritized.

Coming out of the work of the Allegheny County Lead Task Force, Allies for Children’s goal is to advance the group’s number one recommendation set forth in its report: lead-safe housing. More specifically, pre-1978 rental housing is of paramount concern. Together with partners including Allegheny County Health Department and others, Allies for Children works with municipal stakeholders to advance formal policy ensuring that rental housing is maintained in such a way that protects children from lead exposure.

By prioritizing eliminating harmful exposures to lead from paint, dust, and other household sources, Allies for Children aims to prevent harmful effects of lead before these occur, supporting the overall goal of children’s health and learning.

School Breakfast

To build a local health alliance and address food access issues facing children and youth, over the past four years Allies for Children partnered with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and school districts throughout Allegheny County. The successful collaboration resulted in an annual report entitled Breakfast Basics 2018 Update: A Comprehensive Look at School Breakfast Participation in Allegheny County. The report, released annually during School Breakfast Week, highlights how school policy changes can help combat childhood hunger and increase the number of breakfasts schools serve. In 2019, an updated report found that Allegheny County outperformed the state in reaching Governor Wolf’s School Breakfast Goal. On average, 57 students that qualify for free and reduced price meals are eating breakfast for every 100 that eat lunch. In Pennsylvania, on average only 53 students that qualify for free and reduced price meals are eating breakfast per 100 eating lunch. Governor Tom Wolf’s 2020 goal is to reach 60. Currently, Allies for Children and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank are working with schools to implement alternative breakfast models or determine the viability of CEP.