Significant potential for alignment of care coordination and service delivery exists between Head Start and Medicaid. This issue brief draws upon initial experiences from Maryland Medicaid's early efforts to explore connecting one Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) with one or more local Head Start programs in the interest of linking families to needed services--including at least one upstream preventive service--and addressing the social determinants of health. Maryland Medicaid is meeting with a Medicaid MCO, Head Start representatives and a representative from the Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to pilot the delivery of Medicaid-funded group nutritional counseling in Head Start settings. Research has found that interventions in the areas of housing, income support, nutrition support, care coordination and community outreach have had positive effects in terms of health improvement or health care spending reductions. Serving many of the same families, Head Start and Medicaid are natural partners to address social determinants of health and connect families to needed health services. This type of partnership could serve as a model and be developed in other states to explore braided funding approaches to support children's optimal health and well-being.
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