This spotlight first appeared in the Health Foundation’s 2020 Annual Report.
All children deserve the same opportunities to have a healthy, strong start to life. That’s why the Health Foundation continues to support programs and projects that improve the lives and health of young children impacted by poverty. We are proud to be a part of several programs and projects that are making a difference for children and families in western and central New York, even in the face of COVID-19-related obstacles.
Established in 2011 as a means of investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce, Say Yes Buffalo focuses on ensuring that students graduate high school and college with proper support systems, resources and opportunities.
Say Yes’s Health Home Care Coordination program provides medical and social support to children who attend Buffalo Public Schools, are enrolled in Medicaid and are between the ages of 0-21. The services provided include assessing the child’s health goals, assistance in obtaining appointments and coordination of care delivery with medical professionals and connections to community based supports.
“We’re really looking to alleviate any obstacles that the students and their families may face due to a lack of communication among different service providers,” says Amanda Paul, Senior Director of School-Based Services. “Our goal is to successfully graduate a child from the program after achieving improved health and well-being, so that an academic and professional career of achievement is the outcome.”
With support from the Health Foundation in early 2020, Say Yes was able to take on two new Family Support Specialists, including one who is bilingual. These specialists are trained to assist students to work toward required and family driven service goals. Partnerships with a number of organizations, including Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, help the Say Yes team identify potential participants. Fifteen new students were enrolled in 2020 in total, and the team is expecting an increase with the return of in-person schooling. Currently, enrolled students are 100 percent up to date with well visits and immunizations.
“The impact of our program has been expanded on a wide scale given the virtual learning students have to participate in due the pandemic,” says Amanda. “It really has provided an alternate segue for families to receive the help that they need.”