Creating Successful Partnerships with Schools to Enroll Children and Parents in Health Coverage

April 27, 2016

School-based partnerships are essential in identifying and enrolling children who do not have healthcare coverage. Professionals who work in school environments, such as administrators, educators, school nurses, sports coaches and others, are uniquely positioned for this role because of the familiarity they have with students, their families, and the school community. Outreach conducted through schools occurs in a place that is both comfortable and familiar to families. By establishing and fostering these partnerships, your organization can reach and enroll more Medicaid and CHIP-eligible students. View our recent webinar to learn more about leveraging these effective partnerships in your enrollment efforts and beyond. Access all past webinars on the InsureKidsNow webinar page.

Campaign in Action

The partnership between education and health systems is crucial to the overall well-being of children and families. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have joined forces to encourage stronger and deeper integration between education and health. Their collaboration, called Healthy Students, Promising Future features a toolkit designed to support communities in the work of improving all children's education and health outcomes.

In addition, a collaboration between the White House, ED, HHS, The Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Department of Justice calls on states, school districts, schools and communities to join Every Student, Every Day to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism. Research shows a connection between chronic absenteeism and health-related issues particularly among minority and low-income children. This program aims to get at the root causes.

AASA, the School Superintendents Association and the Children's Defense Fund have been working together for the last several years to promote school-based outreach and enrollment through a health insurance initiative. This initiative focuses on two states with high numbers of eligible, but unenrolled students – California and Texas. As part of this partnership, the Houston Independent School District has enrolled more than 1,200 families in health insurance coverage. In mid-May, CDF and AASA will release a toolkit focused on engaging with community partners to enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP.

School nurses are vital outreach and enrollment advocates and provide an essential role connecting children and families to health coverage. The National Association of School Nurses spoke to these unique qualifications on the webinar – school nurses know the children and families, understand the complex health system in their communities, and have the trust of parents and the school district staff. This personal connection and knowledge of the complex health seeking environment makes them ideal candidates to support families seeking health insurance.

The Boulder Valley School (CO) partnered with the Housing and Human Services Department to provide two outreach and enrollment specialists in the school district. Enrollment specialists worked daily with school nurses to complete referrals and provide enrollment assistance. Since 2008, the partnership with the county has resulted in more than 5,500 children enrolled in Medicaid and the state health program. Last year, 265 children were enrolled with a 96 percent approval rate. Colorado now has 5 percent of children without health insurance.

Additional School-Based Partnership Resources

Tools for school-based outreach can be found on the InsureKidsNow.gov outreach tool library including tip sheets, the Get Covered. Get in the Game. Strategy Guide for coaches, web banners, social media graphics and posts, and eNewsletter copy.

Have you found success incorporating school-based outreach strategies? We want to hear your story and share your best practices with other organizations! Tweet us at #Enroll365 or email us at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.

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