Los Angeles, CA – As students in El Monte head back to school, two local school districts: El Monte Union High School District and Mountain View School District are working in collaboration with the American Association of School Administrators and the Children's Defense Fund to identify and enroll eligible but uninsured children into health coverage.
While California has made progress in reducing the number of uninsured children over the past several years, more than a million California children remain uninsured and two-thirds of those children are eligible for health insurance but are not yet covered. "This project will bring us a step closer to closing the coverage gap for California children, and ensuring that every child has the health care they need to do well in school," said Lorena Sanchez, Health Programs Coordinator of Children's Defense Fund-California.
Both school districts are starting the upcoming school year with a new goal: identifying children who currently lack health insurance and linking them to health coverage. Both school districts are taking steps to ensure that this is being done effectively and sustainably within their routine school practices. School districts have modified their student enrollment cards to include a question about a students' current health coverage status. Those children who indicate lacking health insurance, will be immediately linked to a local community health worker who will assist the family and child in identifying a health program that qualifies them for health coverage.
To get the word out about the importance of getting a child the health coverage he/she needs and how the schools are assisting with this effort, both school districts are implementing their own outreach strategies. They are reaching out to parents, school personnel, and their local community through their Back-to-School Nights, health fairs, and other special activities.
"We are pleased to see our Regional Occupational Program students in the Medical Assistant Program be in the vanguard of community efforts to secure health care coverage for all students. Peers make the best role models for other students, and as these young people enter careers in health care; knowledge of the importance of health insurance will be vital in helping their own patients to stay healthy. Surely, it is through community service efforts such as these that young people learn the importance of leadership as well as acquire the independent living skills to become responsible adults, parents, and community contributors" explains Superintendent Nick Salerno of the El Monte Union High School District.
"This partnership between school districts and supporting organizations is essential to our efforts to identify and enroll eligible children in Healthy Families and Medi-Cal," said Sharon-Adams Taylor, Associate Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators. The project is made possible by a grant awarded under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and administered by the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
"We know that insured children are more likely than their uninsured peers to perform well in school. We also know that uninsured children are more likely to miss additional days of school. This project offers our school district the opportunity to not only address the critical health needs of our students, but also improve academic performance and school attendance," explains Superintendent Lillian French of the Mountain View School District.
[The American Association of School Administrators (AASA), founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA's mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. (www.aasa.org). Children's Defense Fund-California is the California office of the Children's Defense Fund, a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for nearly 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. (www.cdfca.org). El Monte Union High School District (EMUHSD), serves students in grades (9-12) living in the communities of El Monte, Rosemead and South El Monte, CA. www.emuhsd.k12.ca.us/. Mountain View School District (MVSD), serves students in grades (K-8th) living in the community of El Monte, CA (http://mtviewschools.com/Page/1.)]