Children's Hospital Colorado

Transforming Community Health

A girl in a yellow dress hula hoops with her family in a community park.

Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI)

Advocating for kids – in and out of the hospital ™

Children’s Hospital Colorado has partnered with the community to advocate for the health and safety of kids. Our work goes beyond the hospital walls and into the communities we support. Children’s Colorado is proud to lead the effort to bring solutions to some of our community’s most pressing issues.

To reinforce our hospital’s ongoing commitment to health improvement, Children's Colorado established the Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI). CHAI’s mission is to positively impact the health and safety of children by working collaboratively with the public and our community partners. By bringing people together and leading the way in child health and safety, CHAI builds and operates evidence based programs aimed at creating a thriving community for children.

Population health

Imagine a child who is referred to the Lifestyle Medicine Program of Children’s Colorado for obesity. Not only does this child’s obesity impact their physical health and wellbeing, it likely impacts other health areas like their susceptibility to injury, asthma and oral health issues.

Before looking to immediately address the issue of obesity, which also trickles into these other health conditions, we must first recognize the comprehensive nature of a child’s care.

Social factors that can influence a child’s health

There are several other factors that likely contribute to this child’s struggle with obesity.

For example, does this child live in an impoverished neighborhood where it’s not safe to play outside? Does their family have access or financial means to purchase healthy foods? Do they come from a culture where managing obesity isn’t a priority? Does their school have physical education classes as part of the curriculum?

When we get to the core of what’s causing health problems, it consequently impacts the other layers. In fact, only 20 percent of health depends on clinical care; the other 80 percent depends on social determinants, according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. For example:

  • 40 percent relates to social and economic factors, such as education, culture, employment, income, community safety, family and social support
  • 30 percent to health behaviors like tobacco use, diet and exercise and alcohol use
  • 10 percent to the physical environment or environmental quality

Many children experience overlapping determinants, such as low income, lack of transportation and less access to safe places and role models, which consequently affects their health and wellbeing.

Supporting the whole picture of children’s health

The future of healthcare depends on how we address and support the whole picture of a child’s health and begin to change both the way we deliver healthcare, and the way our population accesses healthcare. Every population and every community has a different set of healthcare needs, and delivering care isn’t a one-size-fits-all model.

We call this population health, where we implement creative and alternative methods to ensure access to care for the entire population — in our case, children. The population health approach is not only about access to medical care; it is about supporting health and wellness in the home, in communities and in schools. It’s about delivering healthcare that lasts beyond a visit to the doctor or a check-in at the clinic.

At Children’s Colorado, one of our missions as an organization is to create healthier communities through the population health approach, by investing resources into keeping kids out of our hospital through preventative programs and partnerships, and by addressing all aspects of their care.

 Education, culture, income, community safety, home dynamic, and behavior are all social determinants of kids health.

Community benefit activities

As a nonprofit pediatric hospital, our bottom line is kids – this means that positive hospital margins are reinvested into the health and wellbeing of children. Putting that work into numbers isn’t easy. However, in 2016, Children's Colorado reported more than $190 million in “community benefit” activities – that is, activities we conducted as a hospital that went beyond caring for patients and made an impact on our community at large. This includes everything from dental screening and immunization clinics for kids, to financial counseling and car seat education for parents.

Community health needs

Children’s Colorado conducts Community Health Needs Assessments to better understand the current state of children's health in Colorado communities. 

Children's Hospital Colorado (CHCO) is pleased to share our 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The priorities identified in the needs assessment provides us with a framework to guide our community work over the next three years. 

If you have questions about the Community Health Needs Assessment, please contact Julie Beaubian at or 720-777-870. If you are having difficulty downloading a copy of the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment or would like a copy of the report, please contact Julie Beaubian at the above email address.

Children’s Colorado conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment in 2015 to better understand the current state of children's health in Colorado, as well as the interests and concerns of Colorado parents. Through our examination of both the demographic data and the community's input, we were able to better understand the best way we could fulfill the hospital's mission of improving the health of children. We have spent the last year listening to the concerns and interests of our community, and are pleased to share the results of those conversations.

The information gathered as a result of the assessment led to identifying the top six priority health needs:  

Community Health Needs

In response to these findings, Children's Hospital Colorado developed a Community Health Action Plan defining how CHCO will address these six main child health challenges, in targeted zip codes, over the next three years. The strategies and programs outlined in the action plan demonstrate our ongoing commitment to children, families, partnerships with local businesses, health organizations and our community.

The Community Health Action Plan serves as the hospital's fulfillment of the requirement under the Affordable Care Act to develop a plan outlining the strategies it will implement to meet the identified needs in the hospital's Community Health Needs Assessment.

We welcome your feedback on the Community Health Needs Assessment and Community Health Action Plan. Please send your comments by email to Julie Beaubian, Community Health Manager, at or by phone at 720-777-8780. If you are having difficulty downloading a copy of the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment or would like a copy of the report, please contact Julie Beaubian at the above email address. 

Children’s Colorado is also proud to present the 2016 El Paso County Community Health Needs Assessment. Through this health needs assessment, we have come to better understand the health needs facing diverse populations in our community and specifically in El Paso County. This report will inform our future endeavors as we prepare for the launch of our new campus in Colorado Springs. Opening in 2018, this new state-of-the-art facility will include up to 100 inpatient pediatric beds, a neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric intensive care unit and operating rooms. More importantly, it will be the anchor for our expanded efforts to contribute to the health and wellbeing of El Paso County children.

Next we will develop an implementation plan to address the priority needs that have been identified. The implementation plan will be the roadmap for our public health, philanthropic and advocacy work for the next three years.

This Implementation Strategy summarizes the plans for CHCO to sustain and develop new community benefit programs that address the prioritized needs that emerged from the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and respond to other identified community health needs. 

Download a copy of the Child Health Advocacy Awareness Calendar (.pdf) for tips on how to keep kids healthy and strong all year long.

Children's Colorado in the news

Colorado Public Radio

Tooth Decay: A Silent Epidemic, Especially For Poor Kids In Colo.

March 12, 2015

In 2014, more than 3,000 kids visited the operating room for dental surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Scott Hamilton, DDS, pediatric dentist and leader of the Cavity Free at Three program, shares a reason for the growing epidemic with Colorado Public Radio.