Clear Vision for Kids: Celebrating Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month with the MATCH Program

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is celebrated every August in the U.S. This awareness month is used to prevent blindness and raise awareness about the importance of maintaining good vision and safeguarding children’s eyesight. When it comes to children’s physical and cognitive development, eye health and good eyesight are essential components that should never be overlooked. Parents and caregivers are critical in this equation and should stay on top of vision issues as it’s not always possible for kids to understand when their eyes aren’t healthy. 

Recognizing and raising awareness about Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is important because of the vital role children’s eyes play in their overall development and health. From reading books to learning how to walk, children rely heavily on the world around them in order to grow and develop. Detecting and treating vision programs early on is essential, as undetected issues can lead to developmental delays, permanent vision impairment, and learning difficulties. One way to identify and address any potential problems before they become severe is to schedule regular eye exams during childhood.  

HealthCare Access Maryland’s (HCAM) MATCH (Making All The Children Healthy) program works specifically with Baltimore City children ages 0-21 in foster care. The MATCH program is responsible for coordinating health care for children who are placed in foster care or kinship care through the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (BCDSS). Our staff works with BCDSS and caregivers to ensure all of the health needs are met for the children in care. This includes: ensuring children are enrolled in Maryland Medical Assistance and Healthy smiles, choosing appropriate primary care providers, coordinating medical, dental, and mental health exams, identifying health needs and providing recommendations by creating individualized health care plans, and assisting caregivers and BCDSS staff in navigating the health care system. 

Alex Bell, BSN, RN, is one of the Medical Case Managers with the MATCH program. She is responsible for reviewing provider recommendations regarding a child’s eye health and coordinating specialty appointments and surgeries as well as ensuring children have access to recommended visual aids such as corrective lenses. Many of the children who come into foster care are at an increased risk for vision related health issues due to prematurity, intrauterine drug exposure, neurological problems and/or trauma. Additionally, our Medical Case Managers provide education to caregivers about the importance of maintaining regular vision exams as well as following provider recommendations as untreated vision and eye problems can have negative health and behavioral impacts. 

Alex shared the following sentiment about working as a Medical Case Manager in HCAM’s MATCH program:

“As many children learn through their eyes, all children should have access to care that ensures healthy vision in order to optimize both their physical and cognitive development. One of our goals at MATCH is to not let poor health prevent a child from reaching their full potential. The MATCH staff is comprised of an incredible group of caring individuals who put the health of our community’s children first and I am proud to work beside them.” 

Our committed MATCH team of registered nurses, licensed social workers and healthcare professionals serve every child connected with the BCDSS foster care system and are available to support BCDSS workers, foster families, medical providers, dental providers, and behavioral health providers. Learn more about our MATCH program here. 

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