Best Practices

Children with Special Needs

The Maternal Child Health Bureau defines "Children with special health care needs" as those children who have, or are at an increased risk for having, a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.


Key elements of this definition include:

  • A child who either has or is at risk to have a condition that affects their function and needs.
  • The child's condition has lasted or is expected to last longer than one year (chronic).
  • The child requires extra services because of the condition.


Currently, an estimated 169,000 children with special health care needs reside in Colorado.

The Health Care Program for Children with Special Needs (HCP) serves as a focal point at the state and local level to build a system of health care services and supports for all families of children with special needs in Colorado. The program works with other programs, agencies and organizations to develop coordinated programs and community based systems of care to meet the needs of families. The Health Care Program for Children with Special Needs serves to assess the needs of families and to report health status of this population.


Through contracts with local public health agencies, the program assists families in understanding and coordinating the resources available for care and support including:


  • Medicaid
  • Social Security Income (SSI)
  • Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+)
  • Early Childhood Connections (Part C)
  • Special education and developmental disabilities services
  • Access to health care providers


Background Documents

Recommended Strategies

Adequate Insurance

 Community Systems

Family Partnerships


Medical Home


 Related Colorado Programs


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