11/05/2014 10:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An Action Plan to Help Sick Kids Break out of Poverty

By Hans Hickler, Brazil Child Health


Brazil Child Health (known in Brazil by its Portuguese name, Associação Saúde Criança) supports underserved, poor women with chronically sick children and their families. Most of these families live in the favelas (urban slums) of Brazil, and do not have access to even basic citizenship rights.

Brazil Child Health provides families with a holistic two-year Family Action Plan that addresses their total wellbeing -- not just health, but also housing, income generation and education, as well as legal and psychological support.

The Family Action Plan lifts people out of misery, helping them sustain themselves and live with dignity. A recent Georgetown University study showed the impact of Brazil Child Health's program three to five years after families graduated. Children spent 90 percent fewer days in hospital and per capita household income almost doubled, among other beneficial results.

Angélica, 33, has four children. After her eight-year-old son Jacó was diagnosed with diabetes, the family was referred to Brazil Child Health, where Angélica received vocational training as a beautician, along with medicines, regular food support, and transport aid. They also participated in the housing program. These things helped transform her family.

"Our life really improved! My husband is working now and I'm earning money as a manicurist and hairdresser. I can buy groceries, vegetables and fruits, for my children and I can follow the diet recommended by the doctor for Jacó," Angélica says proudly. Today her son has his disease under control.

Brazil Child Health has been operating for over 23 years, and has directly impacted more than 50,000 people in Brazil.


The Family Action Plan methodology has been deployed in seven states in Brazil. It employs 1000 volunteers and over 100 employees, and bridges the public and private sectors without government funding. The Plan has been integrated into public policy in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's third largest city.

Brazil Child Health aims to impact many more families. It is adapting its model to make the Family Action Plan process, methodology and information system available to institutions throughout Brazil.

As part of this effort, the organization recently founded the Brazil Child Health Center of Excellence in Rio de Janeiro. These new headquarters will allow Brazil Child Health to launch its strategic growth and awareness initiatives.

The new facility will significantly increase the number of families served in Rio de Janeiro. It will be a training and deployment center for institutions implementing the Family Action Plan methodology, and will host lecture series on social inclusion.

The Center of Excellence is the cornerstone of Brazil Child Health's strategy to deploy its successful Family Action Plan methodology to institutions throughout Brazil. The organization has a sustainable business model based on marketing and implementing its methodology - making the institution less dependent on corporate and individual donations.

In the long term, Brazil Child Health aspires to scale its proven methodology, making it available globally to break the cycle of misery and poverty that impacts so many families facing serious health and social barriers.

Between October 27 and December 5, Brazil Child Health is participating in the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge on CrowdRise.