Using the Bright Futures Guidelines to Promote Preventive Care for Children

States have made great strides in enrolling and retaining children in health coverage over the past several years. However, once enrolled, children do not always access screenings and preventive services. A missed well-child visit or a skipped developmental screening can result in undiagnosed and untreated medical issues that when discovered can be costly to treat. States can leverage the Bright Futures guidelines as a tool to promote the use of preventive services for children to providers and families.

The Bright Futures guidelines are a set of recommendations developed and refined by a multidisciplinary team of experts including providers, medical researchers, parents and advocates. The guidelines provide a structure for children’s preventive care from birth to age 21, and include recommendations on periodicity of immunizations, well-care visits and screenings. The guidelines present a comprehensive view of a child’s care that is based on research and agreed upon by trusted providers.

On a recent call with NASHP’s Children in the Vanguard network, state officials and advocates shared how they have embraced the Bright Futures guidelines as a tool to increase use of preventive services delivered to children in their Medicaid and CHIP programs. Some examples include:

  • Alabama Medicaid is transitioning from Fee-For-Service (FFS) to managed care. State officials and advocates have used the Bright Futures recommendations to guide discussions about standards of care with new Medicaid health plans.
  • Rhode Island recently became one of the 25 states that have adopted the Bright Futures periodicity schedule for their Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) programs. This ensures that all the screenings recommended by Bright Futures are covered by Medicaid.

For more information on how states are using the Bright Futures guidelines to improve children’s health care, visit

Interested in hearing more about the Bright Futures guidelines and how states can use them to improve preventive care for children? Register for an upcoming NASHP webinar on private and public health plan strategies for using Bright Futures to:

  • Improve parental education on preventive care, and
  • Encourage providers to promote preventive services for children.

For more information on the webinar or to register, click here.

NASHP will continue exploring ways to promote high quality preventive care for children through Bright Futures with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human