With COVID-19 cases on the rise and sometimes conflicting health guidance, many Arkansans are rightfully concerned about exposing loved ones to potential germs. As a result, some families are postponing, or skipping altogether, critical health care visits.

Since March, pediatric practices in the U.S. have experienced dramatic decreases in patient visits, with an average drop of 40-80% for well-child appointments. In Arkansas, there were 75,000 missed immunizations between March and July alone.

Without these routine shots or in-person visits, health officials are worried children may become vulnerable to preventable illnesses like the measles. They may also be at risk of not receiving proper screenings or treatments for potential developmental delays.

This pressing issue may be receiving attention due to COVID-19, but it should remain a priority.

If we want all Arkansas children to achieve their full potential, then we must ensure families have reliable, and steady, access to these types of essential resources.

This month, Excel by Eight (E8) released its annual report, which outlined our continued efforts to strengthen resource grids in communities across our state. As you can see, we’ve made steady progress in meeting our goals. But there’s much more work to do.

We need you—as individuals, businesses, policymakers and community leaders—to be part of the solution.

Through this new blog, we will share how together we can help all children, starting at birth, meet their full educational and health potential. Read our report, and then share on social media how you plan to strengthen the grid in your community with #ExcelbyEight.