Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Program
The Department of Health, Bureau of Family Health, funds the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Program through a grant with the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers (PACHC) to engage FQHCs in improving care to children with special health care needs* (CSHCN). This includes:
- Increasing access to quality health care for CSHCN;
- Offering services to CSHCN to prevent illness and injury; and
- Offering family-centered services to CSHCN.
The FQHC Program's mission is to increase the number of CSHCN who receive care in a well-functioning system by sustaining and improving programmatic, clinical, and operational performance within the FQHCs. A well-functioning system screens early and often, connects health care and community-based services, promotes medical home primary care, makes sure services are affordable, plans for passage through life stages, and assures that clients and their family members/caregivers are partners in care planning.
The program accomplishes its mission by:
- Reaching out to CSHCN and their family members/caregivers to inform them about FQHC services;
- Teaching and enabling clients to access services in the community to achieve better health outcomes; and
- Targeting services to low-income, rural, and other under-served people in Pennsylvania.
Why is the FQHC Program Important?
Nearly 21% of children under age 18 in Pennsylvania have a special health care need. One in five Pennsylvania families has a CSHCN. CSHCN and their families often require services from multiple systems: health care, public health, education, mental health, and social services.
FQHC Needs and Capacities Survey
The FQHC Program surveyed PACHC health centers in early 2020 to rate their capacities and needs related to serving CSHCN. To improve their service delivery, 82% of FQHCs who responded to the survey believed that education for professionals at all levels is critical. When considering facility upgrades, 88% of FQHCs responding to the survey believed that sensory upgrades would be most likely to help them meet CSHCN needs.
Through the FQHC Program, the Department of Health currently funds twelve FQHCs to conduct special projects. These twelve FQHCs serve nearly 50,000 CSHCN, including:
- 46,300 with chronic physical conditions;
- 6,600 with chronic mental/behavioral/emotional conditions; and
- 10,600 with developmental conditions.
Many of these children have multiple conditions. Some of the creative interventions the FQHCs are using include:
- Hiring professionals who focus on special needs;
- Screening non-English-speaking clients for developmental delays;
- Connecting clients with peer support;
- Teaching professionals how to effectively reach and serve children with autism; and
- Partnering with county stakeholders to reach families via digital and traditional marketing strategies.
Who to Contact
For more information contact the Bureau of Family Health, Division of Community Systems Development and Outreach at 717-772-2763.
To learn about FQHCs and their availability by region, contact
Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
1035 Mumma Road, Suite 1
Wormleysburg, PA 17043
*Children with special health care needs are under age 22 and have chronic physical, mental, behavioral, emotional, or developmental conditions that require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.