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.

Introducing the PEDS Learning Network
Promoting child health equity

The PEDS Learning Network aims to reduce inequities in childhood by increasing the number of young children receiving primary care-based interventions that promote healthy development, address unmet social and developmental needs, and strengthen families. 

Learn more about the growing set of resources on child health equity, the urgency of change in this area, and our work nurturing the next generation of clinical leaders committed to improving early childhood development.

PEDS Learning Network
The Children's Health Initiative Team

Lee, who joined UHF in 2016, provides research and policy analysis support to projects focusing on children and families.

Before UHF Lee was Medicaid Director of the District of Columbia; health policy advisor for the National Partnership for Women and Families; staff director of the National Association of State Medicaid Directors; staff director of the Committee on Human Resources, D.C. City Council; and a member of the personal staff of U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits. She has served on committees of the National Quality Forum, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She was the first public member of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies.

Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College.

Susan Olivera, MPH

Susan’s primary focus at UHF is building and managing the statewide Pediatrics for an Equitable Developmental Start (PEDS) Learning Network. She leads the project management team in fulfilling all grant activities, including developing content for the online resource center, and managing the fellowship and learning collaborative programs, with a focus on child health and educational equity. 

Before joining UHF in 2020, Susan worked at the American Cancer Society for 11 years, where she built strategic alliances with major health systems and worked to ensure high-quality and equitable access to cancer care and prevention for underserved populations. She has also held operational roles at Children’s Aid Society, Public Health Solutions, and the William F. Ryan Community Health Center. 

Susan earned a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy and Management from New York Medical College and a Bachelor of Science from the College of Mt. Saint Vincent. She is also a graduate of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement–Emerging Latino Leadership Program.  

Hillary is responsible for organizing the projects and calendars of UHF’s program and policy staff members.

Before joining UHF in 2010, Hillary worked for a Red Cross-funded program through the NYC Mental Health Association to remove the financial barriers to behavioral health care for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. She volunteers with several dog rescue organizations.

Hillary has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the School of Visual Arts.