Campaign Launched To Enroll Children, Families in Covered California

by Bob Norberg, California Healthline Contributing Reporter

TOPIC ALERT:

The Children's Partnership launched a statewide drive Wednesday to reach uninsured children and their families through schools, after-school programs and child care centers to provide information on the health care options available in Covered California and Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act."

The first huge order of business is to let people know the world has changed, that for the first time they have services that were not available before," said Wendy Lazarus, founder and co-president of the Children's Partnership.

The ALL IN Campaign, as it is called, began Wednesday with an on-line rally with the Children’s Partnership and its major partners, the state Department of Education, California School Boards Association, California School Health Centers Association and California Coverage Health Initiatives.

The campaign is geared to let schools, after-school programs and child-care centers know that there is information and help available for them to work with students, families and even employees to let them know about health care options.

"In the schools that we are hoping to target, this is the first time a lot of parents and part-time employees have even to be able to qualify for low-cost or no-cost health coverage," said Lazarus, a member of the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council. Lazarus said the campaign can reach millions of Californians, many low-income, through the schools and centers that are in touch with children and families on a daily basis.

Through the state's 10,000 schools alone, the campaign can reach six million people, Lazarus said. The reach broadens when you take into account there are 33,200 licensed child-care providers, 4,500 after-school programs and 11,000 licensed-center based care sites across California, including Head Start sites.

"We can touch the lives of almost all uninsured parents, students and employees in the state of California," Lazarus said. "This campaign can touch the lives of pretty much anyone who can benefit from Covered California and Medi-Cal."

Sarah Soto-Taylor, deputy director of communications for Covered California, said five million people are eligible for insurance and this new program will help Covered California reach its goal of enrolling 500,000 people by the end of January and one million by the end of 2014.

Under the program unveiled Wednesday, those providers will have access to the Children's Partnership's Internet site, which is meant to serve as a road map to get families enrolled. It includes real-world examples of how other people have found coverage. The group is also developing web-based seminars and videos to provide more detail on the Affordable Care Act.

"We are getting word out that there is this support available. They can come to the ALL IN website, they can download tool kit materials, there is a game plan for school leaders that gives them step-by-step things to inform families -- fact sheets for parents and family members, they will be available soon in Spanish, and a phone number for local people who want answers to more specific questions," Lazarus said.

Jesus Holguin, vice president of the California School Boards Association, said his organization is also creating an informational web site.

"I can't think of a better place to reach families and kids then schools … we have a great historic opportunity to help families," Holguin said.

The Sacramento City Unified School District has a full-time person in charge of the outreach in that district, has information on its web site and is set up to be a center for information, said district spokeswoman Nichole Wofford.

"If you know of a student who needs insurance, let them know we are a connect center and we are ready to help them," Wofford said.

The Children's Partnership is a national, not-for-profit child advocacy organization with offices in Santa Monica and Washington DC. Founded in 1993, its goal is to ensure all children have the health care they need and the opportunities afforded by computing devices and the Internet benefit all children and families.


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