Who are Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs?

Who are Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs?

DHEC serves "children and youth who have or are at risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally." This widely accepted definition was developed by the national Maternal and Children Health Bureau and the American Academy of Pediatrics in collaboration with many health service providers and parents. A 2019-2020 national survey of families with children with special health care needs found that about 250,000 children in South Carolina (23%) under age 18 meet this definition.

DHEC services are available to children and youth up to age 21 with one or more of a wide range of medical conditions or disabilities that have lasted or are expected to last for 12 months or more. Services include information and referral, care coordination and financial assistance with payment for medical services, supplies and equipment.

Some of these children need only an accurate diagnosis, and routine treatment and monitoring. But others need life-sustaining technology, treatment, and medicines throughout their lives. Many depend on multiple health care providers and a combination of private and public health care financing and health care systems.

Almost all children with special health care needs, no matter the severity of their condition, live at home with their parents and brothers and sisters. About 1 in 5 U.S. households has a child with a special health care need.

For more information, email Children with Special Health Care Needs, call us at (803) 898-0784 or visit us at one of our statewide locations . See a brief description of the work performed by DHEC's Children/Teens with Special Health Care Needs Program