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Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs in Alaska

The Alaska Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) program collaborates with families, policy makers, health care providers, agencies, and other public-private leaders to identify and improve health system issues that impact children and families. 

At the local level, the program supports partners to help families with resources and linkages to community services including family support, care coordination, and health information. 

The National Standards for CYSHCN is a framework used by the Alaska CYSHCN program to help guide work related to systems of care for this population. The CYSHCN program is part of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program.

Who are children and youth with special health care needs?

The federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau defines children with special health care needs as: “those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic, physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type of amount beyond that required by children generally” (Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).

This definition can include physical conditions, such as sickle cell disease or asthma. It also includes children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, or children who are technology dependent.

  • According to the National Survey for Children's Health (NSCH), approximately 13.8 million children nationwide – 18.9 percent of all people under the age of 18 – have special healthcare needs.
  • During 2018-2019, there were an estimated 33,465 children in Alaska with special health care needs. This was 18.3% of the Alaska population ages 0-17 years.
  • 11.1% (20,420) had an elevated use of medical care, mental health, or education services due to a health condition lasting 12 months or longer. 
  • 10.1% (18,435) of Alaskan children had a special health care need that included an ongoing emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem requiring treatment or counseling. 

A Summary of Available Data for CYSHCN in Alaska from March 2022 is available and offers a vast array of information including, who CYSHCN are, where they live, the kind of conditions they experience and types of services they require.

  • Available Data for CYSHCN in Alaska

Additional data and information about systems of care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs in Alaska and across the nation can be found at:

Alaska's CYSHCN State Plan

The State of Alaska collaborated with families and a broad stakeholder group to create a five year CYSHCN Alaska State Plan:

Alaska Partnership Access Line – Pediatric Alaska (PAL PAK)

The Alaska Partnership Access Line – Pediatric Alaska (PAL PAK) offers immediate support to pediatric care providers (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) in Alaska who have questions about child and adolescent mental healthcare, such as diagnostic clarification, medication adjustment or treatment planning. There is no charge for the calling the consultation line. Consultations can be patient specific or can be general questions related to child psychiatry. The phone consultation is covered by HIPAA, section 45 CFR 164.506; no additional release of patient information is required to consult by phone.

Call (855)-599-7257 (toll-free) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alaska time, to be directly connected to a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Help Me Grow Alaska (HMG-AK)

Help Me Grow Alaska (HMG-AK) offers support to families and healthcare providers seeking help with child health, mental health, development, and developmental screenings. A call center is staffed with specialists who have access to a comprehensive database of vetted and locally available information and resources across Alaska. 

HMG-AK also offer to healthcare providers outreach and education about PAL-PAK and other resources to support patients and families.

Ongoing Activities

Resources and Support

Stone Soup Group and Help Me Grow Alaska are two agencies who serve children and families throughout Alaska. They offer resources online and support via the telephone: