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The Highmark Caring Foundation

The Highmark Caring Foundation has been a champion for children for more than twenty years, working to identify the unmet needs of children in our community and create innovative programs to meet those needs. An affiliate of Highmark Inc., the Highmark Caring Foundation operates as a charitable organization that has been committed since 1985 to caring for children in need in western Pennsylvania and more recently in central Pennsylvania.

The Highmark Caring Foundation provides support to children and their families, listening and responding to the needs of the underserved, at-risk and vulnerable populations.

Five guiding principles

  • Identify an unmet need for children in the community.
  • Champion the cause and advocate for children in need.
  • Serve as a catalyst for change.
  • Create innovative programs that can be replicated or driven to scale.
  • Build partnerships and mobilize the community to work together to help children in need.

The Highmark Caring Foundation provides support to children and their families by:

  • Serving the uninsured through the pioneering Caring Program for Children — the first private sector program in the nation focusing on the needs of uninsured children — and administering Pennsylvania's CHIP and adultBasic programs.
  • Meeting the needs of grieving children and families through the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, at sites in Pittsburgh, Erie, Central Pennsylvania, and Warrendale.
  • Prioritizing children with special health care needs and their families and creating a care coordination model of care.

The Highmark Caring Foundation is a non-profit organization supported by the Highmark Foundation as well as by community contributions that are matched by Highmark. The Highmark Caring Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

History

In 1985, before "the uninsured" became an issue, the Caring Foundation began to respond to the needs of uninsured children who were falling through the cracks of the health care system. The Caring Program for Children was the first program of its kind in the nation, offering primary and preventive health care coverage to uninsured children from low-income families.

The Caring Program for Children was replicated throughout the United States and became the model for Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which was in turn a model for the federal CHIP program. Every year millions of uninsured children across the country receive health care coverage through CHIP.

Serving grieving children
Through the 1990s, Pennsylvania's CHIP program was able to cover more and more children. During that time, the Caring Foundation identified another need in the community that was not being met—that of grieving children and their families.

In 1996, the first groups of grieving children and families were offered peer support services through what would become known as the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families. On December 2, 1997, the first Caring Place facility opened its doors in downtown Pittsburgh. As the Pittsburgh program continued to grow through partnerships with the community both in the peer support groups and out in the schools, workplaces and throughout the community, additional facilities were opened.

Partnership with schools: Caring Team for Children
From the beginning, the Highmark Caring Foundation has worked in partnership with the community to serve those in need. Tens of thousands of individuals and groups have donated time, energy and funds to help the Highmark Caring Foundation help uninsured children and adults, grieving children and their families, and children with special health care needs.

A special program of the Highmark Caring Place is the Caring Team for Children, a unique partnership with area schools that raises awareness and support for children in need.

Serving children with special heath care needs
In 2004, the Highmark Caring Foundation scaled up what had been a pilot program in the 1980s, working with families of children with special health care needs. The first step was listening to families, physicians and other service providers in order to learn more about the issues facing these families and their children.

The families reported limited coordination between all providers while physicians reported not having adequate knowledge of the specific community support services available to the children. At the same time, community-based service providers reported a lack of collaboration and communication among all of the systems working with the children and families.

After hearing the families, physicians and providers of care, the Highmark Caring Foundation developed the Caring Program: Care Coordination for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Families, an innovative program to address the issues faced by the children and their families.

At the heart of the Caring Program is care coordination—a process that links children with special health care needs and their families to services and resources in a coordinated way to maximize the children's health and quality of life.

The program has been so successful that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department has mandated similar coordination programs for all of its CHIP contractors, and Highmark itself has determined that the program could serve more children more efficiently by moving within Highmark where the Caring Program continues to serve children in need.

Throughout its history, the Highmark Caring Foundation has continued to be a champion for children, working to identify the unmet needs of children in our communities and create innovative programs to meet those needs.

 

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The Highmark Caring Foundation, serving the 49-county area in western and
central Pennsylvania, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.
The Blue Shield symbol is a registered mark of the Blue Cross
and Blue Shield Association.

Highmark Caring Foundation