Healthcare Business News

Agency seeks help on kid-care texting program

By Joseph Conn
Posted: February 1, 2013 - 1:00 pm ET

Got a bright idea for using a library of hundreds of short text messages on improving the health of kids?

The Health Resources and Services Administration at HHS wants to hear from you.

HRSA has published in the Federal Register (PDF) a formal request for information, asking the public for bright ideas about ways to disseminate its soon-to-be released collection of Text for Tots messages to help parents and other care givers promote child wellness, nutrition and exercise.

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Text for Tots, or TXT4T, right now is a not much more than a spreadsheet holding enough 100-character to 160-character text messages to send one a week to the parent or caregiver of a child from the child’s first birthday until he or she reaches age 5. The TXT4T initiative is modeled after the highly successful Text4Baby program, which has more than a half million participants.

The messages for tots are written in both English and Spanish and are based on the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents, a HRSA-funded project begun in 2010 with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here’s an example of a typical TXT4T message to parents on snacking that could prove helpful on several fronts: “Snacking on the run? Keep cheese sticks, apple slices, and whole grain crackers on hand. 2-3 snacks a day prevent hunger temper tantrums.”

Don’t expect to see the same message twice. Each is unique, though reinforce similar points.

Now that the messages are written, the challenge is to get them into widespread distribution. The collection will be officially launched Feb. 20 at a forum in Washington, when they will be published on websites at HRSA, the White House and the AAP. Until then, HRSA wants your input. HRSA will review the suggestions from the public at the forum.

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