Advocacy news

Our advocacy efforts help make a positive impact on legislation that affects the health of children and families in Wisconsin and nationwide.


Children's Wisconsin partners to offer COVID-19 community vaccine clinics

Listen to Mike Gutzeit, MD, chief medical officer at Children’s Wisconsin, and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee Health Department announce a partnership to help vaccinate Milwaukee educators and child care staff. Hundreds of employees and medical students from Children's Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin plan to help the Milwaukee Health Department deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to all education and child care staff who live or work in Milwaukee. Watch the press conference and read more details in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Anyone looking to sign up for a vaccine appointment through the City of Milwaukee can visit the city's website or call 414-286-6800.

Kids in the crossfire

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will share pieces of the puzzle of violence. A puzzle with many pieces, violence doesn’t have one perspective or solution, but instead is a complex issue that will require many people and a lot of work to combat. The series will explore different perspectives of individuals who respond to the call to serve victims and are impacted by violence, and different interventions to help break the cycle of violence. The goal for everyone is to prevent another record year of children being harmed. Children’s Wisconsin treated 79 victims who sustained gunshot wounds in 2020 in isolated incidents. 79 children with gunshot wounds. More than double the kids seen in 2019 — 38. Six of those 79 children didn’t survive. The team at Children’s Wisconsin has never treated that many deaths from gunshot wounds in one year. Read moreFox 6 recently featured Kristin Braun, Children’s Wisconsin’s Trauma Program Manager, to discuss this blog post.

Facebook Live Q&As about COVID-19 vaccine questions and myths

We have heard from many families who have questions about the vaccines. When will the vaccines be approved for kids? Will some kids be eligible before others? What about parents and guardians with underlying health conditions or someone who is the sole caregiver to a child with complex medical needs? Our experts also answered questions like: Was the vaccine developed too quickly? Are there long-term side effects? Do I need the vaccine if I already had COVID-19? Will the vaccine alter my DNA? Watch the videos here.

Children's Wisconsin COVID-19 vaccine recipients

The first wave of Children’s providers and care staff were back last week to get their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. At Children’s Wisconsin, the vaccine roll-out has been going smoothly. As of January 20, more than 3,700 doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and other frontline care staff have received their first dose of the vaccine and nearly 2,000 have received the second dose. While some have experienced mild side-effects, Children’s has not had any reports of people they vaccinated who weren’t able to return to work and care for patients. Hear from frontline workers on their experience receiving the vaccine.

Home sweet home: CCHP housing navigators program transforms families' lives

A dispute with a relative left Aminata and her family homeless and desperate, struggling to find a shelter or landlord willing to accommodate her and nine children. When Children’s Community Health Plan (CCHP) learned of the family’s living conditions, they quickly mobilized to find a temporary place to stay. Carly Mikkila, a community intervention specialist, then began her nearly year-long odyssey to find the family a more permanent home they could finally call their own. Carly worked with Aminata to apply for a Section 8 voucher through the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. With Carly’s help, Aminata and her kids finally found a five-bedroom home and moved in September 2020. Read more.



We are now Children's Wisconsin

The new name reflects that its flagship hospital in Wauwatosa is just one part of its operations. Our story includes care for kids in so many different ways: in the hospital and in primary care, in the emergency department and in a therapist's office, through a digital health offering or at a school nurse's office, through our child advocacy efforts or our health insurance plans. It includes the parents who work alongside us and the donors and advocates who support our work. More than a hospital and health system, we are a community of caregivers dedicated to making Wisconsin's kids the healthiest in the nation.Federal & state legislators and their staff visit Children's: Experience the Mission

Watch and learn more on our blog - NewsHub

Federal & state legislators & staff visit Children's: Experience the Mission

We appreciate staff from Senator Ron Johnson, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Pocan, Congressman Grothman, State Representative Marisabel Cabrera, and staff from Senator Jon Erpenbach, Representative Adam Neylon, Representative LaKeshia Myers and Representative Haywood for visiting Children's to learn more about the work we do within our hospitals and clinics and reaching beyond into our schools, homes, and communities.

Senator Baldwin & Children's doctors discuss vaping-related illnesses 

The number of vape-related lung injuries has increased – reaching almost every state across the country. New statistics continue to come out, as Children's doctors discuss the epidemic with lawmakers. Since mid-June, Children's Wisconsin has seen 17 patients with suspected vape-related illnesses. On October 10, doctors met with Senator Tammy Baldwin to discuss the cases – and what happens next.

Senator Baldwin & Children's doctors discuss vaping-related illnesses

In danger of addicting a new generation: How Wisconsin can protect its youth

After years of declining rates of teenagers smoking cigarettes, we are witnessing an alarming increase in the use of the next generation of nicotine products: e-cigarettes. In Wisconsin in 2018, 1 in 5 high-schoolers use e-cigarettes - a 154% increase from 2014. E-cigarettes not only contain highly addictive nicotine - which affects the developing adolescent brain and body and increases the risk of lifelong addiction to tobacco products - they also can contain harmful toxic chemicals. Right now, there is a bill in the state Capitol that will raise the minimum sale age of all tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. Known as Tobacco 21, this policy will reduce the number of high school kids who can legally purchase these products for themselves and their younger friends.

Read our NewsHub article by Dr. Anoop Singh, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology, and take contact your legislators on Tobacco 21 today!

The Therapist Fellowship Program is helping train future therapistsChildren's advocates for updated child transportation safety legislation

Learn more about one of the programs Children's advocated for during the Wisconsin state budget. Growing the workforce of professionals adequately trained to care for kids' mental and behavioral health needs is crucial to increasing mental and behavioral health care access.

Watch our NewsHub video

Children's advocates for updated child transportation safety legislation

Libbe Slavin, Safe Kids Coordinator Wisconsin, helps raise awareness of important updates to Wisconsin law to reflect best and safest practices for kids in car and booster seats.


Congressional briefing on trauma-informed care

Congressional briefing on trauma-informed care

On September 17, Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher and Illinois Congressman Danny K. Davis hosted a congressional briefing on trauma-informed care in WashiRacine Children's Mental Heath Forumngton D.C. The "Success of Trauma-Focused Interventions" briefing featured speakers from leaders in the field of child trauma, mental health and safety, as well as senior officials from the Department of Health & Human Services. Bob Duncan, Executive Vice President of Children's Wisconsin and President of Children's Community Health Plan, shared our efforts in developing a trauma-informed workforce and implementing trauma-informed care principles and practices across our health system.

Racine Children's Mental Heath Forum 

On August 1, Wisconsin Congressman Bryan Steil (R-1) hosted a "Children's Mental Health Forum" at Case High School in Racine. Policy experts from the national Departments of Health & Human Services, Education, along with officials from Racine County, discussed the importance of improving mental and behavioral health care access for kids. Amy Herbst, vice president of mental and behavioral health, and Lakeisha Russell, school-based child and family therapist, (both of Children's Wisconsin), participated on the panel and discussed Children's priorities and work in Racine elementary schools, as well as highlighted tips for parents. 

Children's presents at Congressman Gallagher's trauma-informed care eventChildren's presents at Congressman Gallagher's trauma-informed care event

On July 30, Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-8) hosted a trauma-informed care event at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. Leaders in crisis response, child welfare systems and community organizations shared their experiences with trauma-informed care and how to improve

services for youth and families. David Whelan, Children's Wisconsin vice president of child well-being, shared Children's trauma-informed care principles and highlighted Community Services' work on SELF staffing and working to improve out-of-home care placement stability.

Teens hospitalized at Children's with lung damage after reportedly vaping

As you may have seen in hundreds of local and national news stories, Children's Wisconsin reported eight cases of hospitalized teens with seriously damaged lungs to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services who is investigating the possible causes of these illnesses. All patients reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to being hospitalized. "The popularity of vaping is obviously skyrocketing among our kids and its dangers are still relatively unknown. We don't have a lot of information about the long-term effects or even the short-term effects," said Mike Gutzeit, MD,chief medical officer of Children's. "What we do know is vaping is dangerous. It's especially dangerous in teenagers and young adults."

Learn more from our NewsHub article about teen vaping.

Ensure you are signed up for CAN to receive future opportunities to engage in grassroots advocacy on this topic!

Governor Evers signs Wisconsin state budget

On July 3, Governor Tony Evers signed the 2019-21 Wisconsin state budget. You can read more about some of the provisions related to child and family health and weLieutenant Governor Barnes visits Children's, hears from patient advocate on mental and behavioral healthll-being.

Lieutenant Governor Barnes visits Children's, hears from patient advocate on mental and behavioral health 

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes stopped by Children's to learn more about our care and services. While here, he met with 17-year-old Cady and her parents who shared how important it is for young people to be able to access mental and behavioral health care. Way to be a great advocate, Cady!

Children's patient travels to Washington, D.C. to advocate for mental and behavioral health care

Each year, Children's hosts a patient family in Washington, D.C. as part of the annual Children's Wisconsin Association Family Advocacy Day. This year, nine-year-old Derell and his mom Etta from Milwaukee traveled to our nation's capital to share Derell's story about the importance of accessing mental and behavioral health care.

Governor Evers & DHS Secretary-designee Palm visit Children's, discuss mental and behavioral health and child well-beingGovernor Evers & DHS Secretary-designee Palm visit Children's, discuss mental and behavioral health and child well-being

Governor Tony Evers stopped by Children's to learn about the unique care we provide kids and families both inside and outside of the hospital. While here, he met with baby Jaxx and his family. Jaxx was just one week old and was receiving care at our cardiac intensive care unit before he had heart surgery at our Herma Heart Institute. He also learned about our Community Services and mental and behavioral health care services. Educating lawmakers about our work and the services kids and families need to be healthy and well is important to helping our work to advance policies that best support kids' health and well-being.



With too few mental health care providers to go around, kids often wait to get help

Wisconsin has a total of 148 practicing child psychiatrists, or 12 for every 100,000 residents younger than 10, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. That's about a quarter of the academy's recommended amount. "Every day we have families calling us all around the state attempting to get an appointment with a therapist," said Amy Herbst, vice president of mental and behavioral health at Children's; though the wait could be weeks or even months. Children's has a behavioral health specialist in 19 of its 26 clinics across the state and they're shared amongst the rest of the sites. "Still, it's hard not to feel inadequate as a health care provider when you're unable to get a patient the help they need right away," said Smriti Khare, MD, president of Children's Primary Care.

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Kids in Crisis series.

Racine schools, in partnership with Children's Wisconsin, implement full-time mental health therapists for students

As parents and school leaders recognize the growing need for mental health professionals in schools, one southeast Wisconsin school district is making it happen. Racine Unified School District partnered with Children’s to bring full-time therapists to several of its elementary schools. Jackie Willms, from Raci, said the program changed her daughter's life.

Read more from NBC 4.

Children's advocates attend 2019 WHA Advocacy Day and honor staff and legislators with awards

On April 17, nearly 100 Children's Wisconsin advocates, including Children's staff and patient families, traveled to Madison to take part in the Wisconsin Hospital Association's annual Advocacy Day. Read Children's NewsHub blog on two patient families who attended the event!

 2019 Children's Champion Policy Award    2019 Advocacy Awards

Children's honored the seventh annual Children's Champion Policy Awards to Speaker Robin Vos, Representative Steve Doyle and Representative Pat Synder for their work on the bipartisan Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care. The Task Force championed numerous policies to improve the health and well-being for our most vulnerable children and youth. For the first time, Children's also honored two of our staff for their dedication and passion for advocacy on behalf of Wisconsin kids and families. Congratulations to Lori Albers, Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs Project Manager, and Aaron Kinney, Executive Director of the Herma Heart Institute!

Kohl's donates $5 million to Children's Wisconsin to enhance mental health services

Kohl's announced a $5 million gift to Children's to help launch a multi-year mental health strategy to improve mental health services for Wisconsin kids and their families. The grant will directly address the state’s need for greater access to mental health services for children and generate awareness about the impact a child's mental health has on his or her holistic well-being. "This incredibly generous gift will jump start numerous initiatives and expand programs that strengthen our mental health strategy," said Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children's. "We are so thankful that Kohl's believes in our vision that Wisconsin kids will be the healthiest in the nation — physically, mentally and socially. Sadly, Wisconsin ranks extremely low in meeting the mental health needs of our kids."

Watch and read this powerful story on our Racine school-based mental health providers, featured on NBC 4.

Children's doctor discusses lead exposure in kids at Milwaukee Common Council

Heather Paradis, MD, medical director of Children's Community Services, participated in a Public Safety and Health Committee session at Milwaukee's City Hall on the effects of lead exposure on Milwaukee's children. Dr. Paradis pointed out that the number of children being hospitalized with severe lead poisoning in Milwaukee continues to increase and she stressed the importance of early testing.

Visit our legislative work page to read her testimony.

New infant abuse prevention bill based on work of Children's Wisconsin doctor

According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse or neglect in the United States in fiscal year 2017. Seventy-two percent of child fatalities involved children younger than 3, and 50 percent involved infants younger than 1. Multiple studies have found that relatively minor, visible injuries in young infants, including bruising and intraoral injuries, are often indicators of abuse. Such injuries in infants are commonly overlooked by medical providers, caregivers and child welfare professionals because they seem trivial. Without early intervention, physical abuse can escalate, resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced a new bill on April — the Early Detection to Stop Infant Abuse and Prevent Fatalities Act — which is inspired by and based on the work of Lynn Sheets, MD, medical director of child advocacy and protective services at Children's that would help reduce cases of infant abuse in the United States.

"Keeping kids healthy and safe needs to be our aim, not treating injuries after they happen or mourning the loss of a life taken too soon. This bill would help us do that. This legislation could significantly improve early recognition and intervention efforts to protect vulnerable infants and will help prevent many cases of abuse and related fatalities," said Dr. Lynn Sheets, medical director of child advocacy and protective services, Children's. "Unfortunately, after decades of evaluating abused infants, I have found there were reports of minor suspicious injuries before more serious harm was done. We have used this information in Wisconsin to help prevent further tragedies and applaud Senator Baldwin's leadership to expand these efforts."

Read our NewsHub story

Abbott Family: The power of advocacy

Aidan, a 14-year-old from Slinger loves physical education class and enjoys playing basketball. But he's no ordinary 14-year-old; he's working to make a big impact on public policy affecting kids across the country. Read on to hear from Becky, Aidan's mom about the importance of sharing your story!

Children's statement on Governor Evers' 2019-21 state budget

"Governor Evers' proposed budget includes encouraging support for an array of programs, services and partnerships to enhance access to care for kids, and especially important are increased payments to hospitals, like Children's, that serve a high volume of patients covered by Medicaid. These proposals will help us strive towards Children's vision of Wisconsin's kids being the healthiest in the nation," said Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children's. "Access to health care and child safety are important bipartisan priorities. As the Legislature now begins its work on the state budget, we look forward to working with lawmakers and the Governor to ensure adequate funding for the health and well-being for Wisconsin's children."

Lawmakers visit Children's

We were glad to host many lawmakers in early 2019 to learn more about the care and services we provide to kids and families from all across Wisconsin. Thank you Commissioner Kowalik, Secretary-designee Palm, Assistant Deputy Secretary-designee Safar, Representative Haywood, Representative Myers, Representative Vining, Congressman Gallagher, Congressman Steil, Speaker Vos and Governor Evers!

Children's pediatricians host press conference on importance of vaccinations

On February 19, doctors at Children's held a press conference urging people to get vaccinated, if you have't already, because influenza in Wisconsin hasn't peaked yet. Lyn Ranta, MD, Children's director of physician affairs, recommends that all children over six months receive vaccinations. She notes that the influenza vaccine is particularly helpful in preventing severe infection and hospitalization.

Watch the press conference

For young survivors of violence, Project Ujima uses art to help them heal

For more than two decades, Project Ujima has worked to stop the cycle of violent crimes that takes a toll on far too many of Milwaukee's children, families and neighborhoods. In 2018, Project Ujima began collaborating with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's (UWM) Peck School of the Arts. 15 teens works closely with Project Ujima staff and UWM art students and faculty on a peace banner and a series of survivor portraits. One 15-year-old participant wrote that "I can finally talk to people, not with violence or with words."

Read our NewsHub blog post.

Providers across Wisconsin working to prevent child abuse and neglect

On average across Wisconsin, maltreatment is blamed for approximately 27 child deaths per year. Lynn Sheets, MD, medical director of Children's Child Advocacy & Protection Services, says that children who are part of families that are under high levels of stress – where there are financial problems, social isolation, mental health issues, abuse and more – are more likely to be abused. The Wisconsin Department of Children & Families recorded 806 substantiated reports of physical child abuse in 2017 and Child Protective Services investigated more than 42,000 reports in the same time. Hospitals across Wisconsin are beginning to implement a curriculum called Period of PURPLE Crying, which teaches new parents what type of crying is okay and to be expected and how to cope with it.

Read Oshkosh Northwestern's article >>

Children's ranks among best hospitals for children with congenital heart disease

Children's Wisconsin was named among the top 24 best hospitals for children with congenital heart disease. Studies show that the more experience a hospital and its surgical team have in performing high-risk operations, the better outcomes they tend to have. On average, Children's provides more than 600 cardiothoracic surgeries each year. See the rankings.

Learn more about Children's Herma Heart Institute.

Children's Kenosha Clinic opened February 4

Children's opened its new Kenosha Clinic on February 4 with expanded services, including urgent care seven days a week. The clinic will consolidate specialty and primary care services with convenient on-site lab, imaging and community services into one multipurpose location. Read's article.

How Integrated Behavioral Health is bringing pediatric psychologists into the pediatrician's office

Eight-year-old Derell, from Milwaukee had trouble focusing in school and following rules. At the Midtown Clinic and three other primary care clinics, Children's is piloting the Integrated Behavioral Health program, which brings behavioral health therapists and pediatric psychologists into the primary care setting. Once he was receiving treatment, Derell's behavior transformed rapidly, including an improvement in his grades and getting along with other kids.

Read our NewsHub's post about Derell and integrated behavioral health at Children's.