January 2024 President's Letter

Greetings SPN Members! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

As I review the accomplishments of SPN over the past year, I am in awe of the knowledge and expertise our members bring to their service on the Board of Directors, committees, task forces, as well as our educational programs. I can already sense that 2024 will be another successful year working towards our mission of providing you with excellent resources and education in pediatric nursing!

I would like to commend the accomplishments of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. Chaired by Asma Taha, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC/AC, PCNS-BC, FAAN, the task force extended their service an extra year as the work took longer than originally anticipated. The DEI Task Force guided the integration of DEI concepts into our vision and core values statements, recruitment process for elected leaders, core competencies for pre-licensure and nurse residents, and the Pediatric Nursing Excellence Model. The task force has actively engaged with the membership by sharing key information through presentations at the Annual Conference, newsletter articles, coordinating DEI webinars, and through an article published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Thank you to task force members:

  • Anastasia Brennan, MSN, MPH, RN, CPN (2020-2023)
  • Megan Dorrington, MSN, MBA, RN, NPD-BC, CPN (2020-2023)
  • Angela Green, PhD, RN, CPHQ, FAAN (2020-2022)
  • Victoria Stamp, BSN, RN, CPN (2020-2023)
  • Jennifer Stephen, PhD, RN, CPN (2020-2023)


Board member, Michaela Lewis, DNP, ARNP, CPNP-AC/PC, CPN, CPEN, CNE, CNE-cl, PMHS, CCRN, VA-BC and the Healthcare Policy and Advocacy Committee recently authored the Access to Care position statement that promotes access to health care for children and their families across all settings. Strategies SPN supports include expanding health care insurance coverage, reducing barriers to child health insurance enrollment, access to affordable, comprehensive, child health insurance coverage, permitting providers to practice to the full extent of their license, reducing disparities and improving cultural responsiveness.

One of the most significant ways in which many families access healthcare for their children is through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is designed to cover uninsured children in families whose incomes are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. Formerly known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), it passed into law as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and is under Title XXI of the Social Security Act. CHIP was last reauthorized as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and funding is approved through 2027.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released the policy statement, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program: Optimization to Promote Equity in Child and Young Adult Health. In this statement, the AAP reviewed key aspects of the CHIP program and proposed reforms and enhancements to support a more comprehensive and equitable system of care to improve child health by reducing disparities and major variations between states. Since the implementation of CHIP, studies have shown more timely access to care and reductions in neonatal and child mortality, fewer hospitalizations, less chronic disease into adulthood, and lower rates of teen pregnancy.

Key policy changes recommended by AAP include changes to both Medicaid and CHIP to advance eligibility and enrollment, coverage and care, and financing and payment. Among their recommendations are universal eligibility for children up to 26 years of age, automatic enrollment in a combined Medicaid and CHIP program at birth with an option to opt out if covered by other insurance, implementation of core drug benefits, and increasing the federal share of funding to reduce state variations that contribute to unequal access of care. Reforming and enhancing the current CHIP program will create foundational and long-lasting reform to advance health equity and fully address the developmental, clinical, and mental health needs of children so they can grow and thrive.

Currently about 50% of US children receive care through Medicaid and/or CHIP. It is imperative that we help to improve access to care and understand the current CHIP program so that we can help to shape improvements in the next iteration of funding, program eligibility, and coverage to better serve children and families.


Carrie Wall has served as SPN’s Operations Manager for the past 5 years, and Jennifer Aron has served as SPN’s Education Sr. Associate. Carrie and Jennifer have both contributed to SPN’s success and will be missed. Joining the SPN team is Leah Laskowski who has been at Smithbucklin, our management company, since 2018 and has served on a variety of healthcare related organizations during her tenure.


Believe it or not, we are just 3 months away from our Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona!! Mark your calendar, request April 17-19 off from work, and register now to save $150 with early bird registration! This is a fantastic time to connect with your pediatric nursing colleagues from across the country and learn more about how they approach similar issues you are facing – you definitely need to take advantage of this opportunity!

Kathy Van Allen, MSN, RN, CPN

SPN President

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