Addressing childcare as a barrier to healthcare access through community partnerships in a large public health system

Kristin S. Alvarez, Kavita Bhavan, Sheryl Mathew, Courtney Johnson, Amy McCarthy, Blanca Garcia, Marilyn Callies, Kelly Stovall, Michael Harms, Kimberly A. Kho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: In our public health system, a survey of reproductive-aged women identified lack of childcare as the most common reason for missing or delaying healthcare. Community-based organisations (CBOs) in our county identified a similar need, so we partnered to develop a hospital-based childcare centre for patients to use during appointments. METHODS: In a large academic public health system, a partnership with a non-profit childcare CBO was formed to address lack of childcare as a barrier to accessing healthcare. Pilot clinics where no-cost childcare would be offered included obstetrics, gynaecology and medical oncology. Transparent communication from the CBO within the electronic medical record was built to minimally impact clinic workflows. Visual and electronic outreach, including patient portal questionnaires, were created to introduce patients to the services. Personalised clinic staff in-services were performed to introduce the service to clinics and leadership. Continual assessments of workflow were conducted and adjusted based on patient and staff feedback and quality checks. At 12 months, overall utilisation of the service was collected. RESULTS: In the first 12 months that no-cost childcare was offered, 175 patients enrolled 271 children into the programme. Ninety-seven percent were women, primarily Hispanic (87/175 (50%)) or black (64/175 (37%)), with an average age of 31.8 years. Of the enrollees, 142/175 (81%) patients made 637 childcare appointments and 119/175 (68%) patients used at least one reservation for 191 children. Most patients were verbally referred by clinic staff for childcare or self-referred for childcare from clinic signage or paperwork. Childcare was requested most frequently for obstetrics and gynaecology appointments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Community Health Services
  • Health Equity
  • Healthcare quality improvement
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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