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2023 Year in Review

2023 was a special year for Children’s HealthWatch: we not only celebrated 25 years of advancing racially equitable and inclusive policies that support young children and families but our research and advocacy efforts led to or were part of important victories and advancements. 

A selection of our recent policy and research accomplishments include: 

Elevated our research to national leaders 

  • In his remarks at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, President Biden uplifted Children’s HealthWatch research on how the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) reduced families’ food insufficiency by 25%, describing it as evidence to reinstate the expanded CTC as a solution to reduce hunger in America. 
  • Children’s HealthWatch continued to conduct timely and important research.  We published a number of papers including one showing the incredible benefits of COVID relief programs for both housing stability and food security and one that showed the positive link between programs that provide nutritious meals in child care and the health and well-being of young children. This research is used by Children’s HealthWatch and other advocates to push for change.  

Fought for more resources for children and families 

  • Children’s HealthWatch relaunched its Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition, a statewide network that successfully advanced landmark legislation to increase the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit from 30% to 40% of the federal credit and establish a fully refundable, uncapped Child and Family Tax Credit worth $440 per dependent, putting real money back in the wallets of Massachusetts families. 
  • In coordination with the Minnesota Budget Project, Children’s HealthWatch helped successfully advocate for the creation of a Minnesota Child Tax Credit that will provide families with low incomes with a refundable credit of $1,750 per child. The MN Child Tax Credit is the largest state-level credit in the country and is estimated to cut child poverty in the state by one-third. 
  • Supported efforts in Massachusetts to include funding in the Governor’s supplemental Budget for special state-funded SNAP benefits for immigrant households who are excluded from federal SNAP benefits.   
  • Helped advance legislation to permanently provide free school meals to all Massachusetts children. 
  • Built support for cash transfer policies, which provide direct resources to families, at the state and federal level. 

Forged ahead with new research 

  • Researchers at Children’s Healthwatch developed and validated the Abbreviated Child and Adult Food Security Scale (ACAFSS). The ACAFSS is an 8-question scale that identifies not only if a household is experiencing food insecurity, but also the severity of food insecurity for both adults and children in the household. 
  • We demonstrated the harmful impact of the prior Administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and efforts to expand the public charge rule to include vital public assistance programs, like SNAP and WIC, on young children from immigrant families’ attendance at well-child visits. 
  • Exciting new projects are in process including work to understand the factors that help – and hinder – families from enrolling in all the benefits for which they are eligible and a project to understand the best strategies for rolling out a nationwide cash transfer pilot for families of children undergoing cancer treatment. 

In the coming year Children’s HealthWatch will embark on a new initiative, Democratizing Our Data, which will build on our existing and ongoing foundation to help us make our data accessible to a wider audience. Through this project we will create a user-friendly interactive interface on our website that will produce customizable, actionable analyses that users can take to city halls, state houses, and the halls of Congress. We will leverage 25 years of policy-relevant research excellence to shape the next generation of evidence-based policies that will ensure that all young children and their families thrive.  

You can help be a part of our efforts by sharing our research, advocating for the health and well-being of young children and by donating to Children’s HealthWatch.  Together we can make an equitable, healthy future for children and families more than just a hope, and – instead – a reality.