Poverty. Hunger. A parent with depression or an addiction. Social and economic factors like these can profoundly affect a child’s development in the first five years of life—which in turn can alter the entire trajectory of that child’s life, including physical and mental health, cognitive development, and educational and economic prospects. 

The Children’s Health Initiative at United Hospital Fund is working to build a strengthened primary care system for children that recognizes the impact of these non-clinical determinants of health—and promotes optimal physical health, social and emotional well-being, and cognitive growth during the first five years of life.

Our work falls into three areas:

Building Effective Clinical-Community Partnerships
Our major grant initiative, Partnerships for Early Childhood Development, links pediatric practices at hospitals across the City to community organizations—with the goal of screening young patients and their families for one or more psychosocial risks to healthy development and then connecting families to social service organizations that can help. We have also commissioned research to examine parent perspectives on these efforts.

Shaping a Value-Based Payment Model for Children Enrolled in Medicaid
In collaboration with other stakeholders from across the state, we are working to develop an alternative payment policy for the Medicaid program to improve the health of children and promote optimal development and lifetime success. We are also sharing our experience with other states and national organizations interested in similar reform efforts.

Working with New York State to Develop Child-Focused Policies
We are a lead partner in implementing New York State’s First 1,000 Days on Medicaid initiative, a set of ten proposals designed to harness Medicaid’s purchasing power to improve health outcomes for children from infancy to age three. We also served as the key partner to the state in developing the First 1,000 Days on Medicaid initiative through an unprecedented stakeholder process.

The Children's Health Initiative Team
Suzanne C. Brundage

Suzanne C. Brundage is a public health and health care strategist committed to creating the conditions in which children and families thrive. She is the director of UHF’s Children’s Health Initiative, which was established to strengthen health care’s focus on health disparities rooted in childhood. 

Through a dual focus on service delivery and policy, Suzanne has worked on a range of issues including social determinants of health and education; primary care; Medicaid; and substance use disorders. She is a trusted collaborator, thought partner, and consensus builder for many organizations and individuals nationwide focused on strengthening systems for families. She was named the first Patricia S. Levinson Fellow at UHF for her work to improve health care for vulnerable populations. 

Before working at UHF, Suzanne was the assistant director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. She has worked with a wide range of health nonprofits and safety net institutions, including Healing Through Remembering in Northern Ireland, Catholic AIDS Action in Namibia, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and Boston Medical Center. Suzanne is a member of the Bennington College Board of Trustees and the national Children’s Health Leadership Network. In 2018, she was named to City & State New York’s “40 Under 40” list and Crain’s New York’s list of 100 notable women in health care. 

She holds a BA from Bennington College in conflict resolution and international affairs and an MS in health policy and management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Susan Olivera, MPH
Susan Olivera, MPH

Kristina Ramos-Callan
Kristina Ramos-Callan