Posted by Elizabeth Casey
We’ve all heard the expression, “mom knows best.” From helping us feel better when we’re sick, to seeing past our best attempts to stay home from school for the day, parents boast a level of expertise that keeps many of us calling to ask them health questions well into adulthood.
But that expertise doesn’t just automatically kick in when you become a parent. Many people need a little guidance when it comes to serving as a primary caretaker and making decisions related to our children’s health. Through The Power of Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the U.S. are working to build healthier communities by educating parents to empower Americans to take control of their families’ health.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation and its partnership with the Kansas Head Start Association to fund the Parent Health Literacy Project is a prime example of this endeavor.
The Parent Health Literacy Project aims to reduce the number of unnecessary emergency room and physician visits while teaching parents to make informed decisions about the level of care to seek for their sick children. The program begins by engaging the practitioners who work with parents, educating them on target populations and how to teach health concepts to low-literacy audiences. Those practitioners then train parents in one-on-one or small group settings to help them learn to use the medical system effectively and make the best possible decisions for their children.
Nearly 100 training sessions have educated 265 practitioners in 60 Kansas counties, and the program has already seen impressive results. Head Start reports that Parent Health Literacy Project participants have noted 39 percent fewer unnecessary doctor’s visits, 57 percent fewer emergency room visits, 60 percent fewer missed school days for children and 47 percent fewer missed work days for parents. Perhaps most importantly, 82 percent of parents say they have increased confidence taking care of children’s illnesses as a result of the educational program.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation supports the program by providing a variety of training tools, including the development of online training materials, which allowed four additional regions of the state to offer workshops.