How Businesses Benefit From The Health Law Partnership for Children’s Health
By Susan McLaren, Senior Research Associate, Georgia Health Policy Center
Workplace wellness plans, insurance breaks for active gym goers and paid sick leave are hot topics for employers, who depend on employees being productive and available. But employers who want to cultivate a healthy workforce would be wise to support their employees in addressing one of the most consuming and draining challenges parents face: a chronically sick child or one with disabilities.
For example, asthma is not only one of the leading causes of school absenteeism, it also results in increased work absenteeism among their parents. A simple water leak in a rental apartment can cascade into a mold issue that exacerbates a child’s asthma, leading to numerous emergency room visits or a hospital admission that cause parents to miss work.
According to a 2018 Journal of Asthma study, workers of children with asthma reported missing almost two times more work than parents of children without asthma. An employer can support this employee in a way that improves the bottom line by helping to make sure they have access to legal help that improves their child’s health.
The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) is a collaborative effort composed of lawyers, health care providers and social workers from Georgia State University College of Law, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Atlanta Legal Aid that addresses the legal needs of children and families seen at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. HeLP provides free legal services to remediate health-harming legal issues that exacerbate health problems, including sub-standard housing, family law, education and access to benefits. In addition, HeLP provides interdisciplinary education to health care providers, social workers and attorneys to support interprofessional collaboration to identify and address these socioeconomic determinants of health.
Since its inception in 2004, HeLP has served more than 1,600 families, helping in more than 2,000 cases throughout Georgia. Remediation of legal problems by HeLP has resulted in positive results for both families and their communities. Seventy percent or more of clients who have received HeLP services report improved health and well-being for themselves and their child or children. Employed clients report missing fewer days from work and their children spending more days in school.
Remediation of legal issues like the housing example above results in fewer emergency department visits and supports cost avoidance for the health care system. HeLP has secured benefits and cost savings valued at about $8.9 million since its inception. On average, 91 percent of the more than 1,000 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta staff who participated in HeLP’s professional trainings report that HeLP services positively affect patient and family health and well-being and allow staff to allocate time to other families.
Much of what affects the health and well-being of our workforce occurs beyond the doors of clinical providers. Investment in interprofessional partnerships like HeLP can holistically address legal matters that harm the health of some of the most vulnerable families in the community.
Providing these services to families in need also strengthens the health of Georgia’s business community by ensuring workers can be dependable and productive.