Community Mission

More than 25 years ago, Boston Children’s Hospital was one of the first academic medical centers in the country to expand the traditional missions of patient care, teaching and research to embrace a fourth core mission—community. Through the years, Boston Children’s has strived to ensure that community health is more than words in our mission statement. Our efforts have evolved from targeted services that reach small numbers of families into innovative models that have proven to address health disparities and improve child health outcomes.

Driving our efforts are the needs and concerns identified by our community. Mental and behavioral health, obesity and asthma are top concerns that we consistently hear from parents and partners. We’ve also heard that families want to feel safe in their neighborhoods, have access to affordable and stable housing as well as better access to affordable and healthy foods. To stay on top of these issues and identify the best ways to address them, Boston Children’s is always listening to and learning from our community. Our assessment process includes a review of public health data to look at health, social and economic indicators that affect a child’s health. But, the core of our process is getting feedback from the community—parents, neighborhood residents, other health providers, city leaders and many others—about what concerns them the most. The findings inform our plans to best use the hospital’s resources, leverage partnerships and implement the right approaches. The focus includes keeping children healthy through wellness and prevention efforts as well as ensuring access to high-quality care and working with our partners to meet the needs of families.

The Office of Community Health oversees the community mission and coordinates community health efforts throughout the institution. 

Improving Child Health Outcomes

Boston Children’s strategy for improving community health is to: 1) address the most pressing health needs of children and families; 2) provide services through programs that can lead to improvements in health; or 3) build community capacity to better meet the needs of children and families. Some of these programs in the hospital’s four priority health area—asthma, obesity, mental/behavioral health and early childhood/child development—are described below.

  • The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) has helped to improve the health of Boston children with asthma. To date, CAI has served more than 1,868 children. CAI provides case-management services, offers home visits, educates caregivers and providers, distributes asthma control supplies and connects families to local resources. The program has reduced the percentage of patients with any asthma-related hospitalizations by 81%, emergency department visits by 57%, missed schools days by 45% and missed work days for parents/caregivers by 53%.
  • Boston Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships Program (BCHNP) is the hospital’s community-based behavioral health program. BCHNP places clinicians in Boston schools and community health centers to provide a comprehensive array of services to better meet the needs of children and adolescents. Last year, more than 1,000 students received school-based services. The program alsoprovided 1,191 hours of consultation to school staff and families and 26 workshops were held on social, emotional and behavioral health.
  • Fitness in the City (FIC) is a community-based approach to addressing obesity by offering prevention and intervention strategies to support children and youth who are overweight or obese, in making healthier choices and behavior changes. FIC supports 11 Boston community health centers to provide almost 1,100 children annually with case-management support, as well as access to nutrition and physical activity programs. Almost 60% of children participating in FIC have reduced their Body Mass Index. Participants also have made behavioral changes such as reducing consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and increasing the amount of time being physically active.
  • The Advocating Success for Kids Program (ASK) provides access to intensive and critically needed services for children experiencing school-functioning problems and learning delays through Boston Children’s primary care clinic and in two Boston community health centers. Last year, 561 children were cared for by the ASK team.

The Office of Community Health oversees the community mission and coordinates community benefit efforts throughout the institution. 

Collaboration for Community Health

Boston Children’s has an opportunity to make a significant impact on the health of children and families. These funds—Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health—will be distributed to community organizations over the next 10 years.

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