Children with special healthcare needs have one or more chronic conditions or a functional disability that is expected to last at least 12 months and require above normal healthcare services.

About 13% of children in the U.S. have special healthcare needs. At Seattle Children's, more than 60% of all discharges are children with special healthcare needs.

Seattle Children's supports the following advocacy efforts for children with special healthcare needs:

  • Promoting family-centered care through family support and education and promoting partnerships between families and healthcare providers
  • Maintaining adequate health insurance, especially a benefit package that supports special and unique needs
  • Promoting optimal strategies and arrangements for care management
  • Coordinating information with school systems where these children are enrolled along with healthy children
  • Supporting palliative care, respite care and end of life issues with an emphasis on quality of life for the child and their family
  • Promoting coordination between primary care systems and referral centers where these children receive specialty care
  • Recognizing mental health issues and coordinating care between mental health and non-mental health services
  • Developing long-term prevention strategies that are directed towards decreasing disease prevalence and disease-related morbidity
  • Supporting transition of their care to adult providers as these children develop and grow into adults

Center for Children with Special Needs

The Center for Children with Special Needs was formed in 1998 as a program of Seattle Children's. The center focuses on improving the health and well-being of children with special needs and their families.

The Center collaborates with a variety of healthcare organizations, state agencies, community-based programs, families and healthcare providers to plan, implement, evaluate and disseminate innovative strategies to improve care.