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Modern Families and Health Coverage

April 7, 2017

The structure of American families and households has undergone significant changes in recent years. Over the last few decades, what was historically thought of as a "traditional" family – a husband, wife, and children – has expanded to include unique household structures that better represent American culture. This includes multi-generational households, kinship care, same-sex parents, single parents, and siblings living together. A 2014 Pew Research Center analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data found fewer than half (46%) of U.S. children younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.

The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign's recent webinar featured organizations working to connect all types of families and the children that live and thrive in these households to health coverage. The speakers shared the challenges and best practices for reaching these eligible children and the variety of tools and resources available to engage modern families.

Campaign in Action

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) engages caretakers of eligible children at clinics, hospitals, schools, community centers and shelters, and child welfare locations. Through their various activities and programs dedicated to increasing Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment, the organization leverages partnerships with professional organizations, government agencies, and education institutions. Together NASW and its partners are committed to championing overall health and providing a variety of resources to educate health advocates. Recently, they have put additional effort into assisting in reinstating lapses or coverage losses and navigating coverage options.

The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) – Texas works to ensure that every child has a "Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start." The organization tackles health care coverage by conducting on-the-ground outreach to families in convenient places, including their longstanding school-based outreach initiatives that help enroll children in Medicaid and CHIP. CDF uses a variety of tactics to reach multi-generational families, including adding health insurance questions to school enrollment forms, identifying uninsured families, following up with families about how to apply for health coverage, working with schools to receive referrals, and planning special events.

As an essential part of the child development and care network in New Jersey, the Children's System of Care (CSOC) helps adolescents stay with their families as they are engaged in the continuum of care. CSOC is dedicated to reducing the need for out-of-home treatment settings for youth. Through assisting teens with enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, CSOC is able to provide youth with access to the treatment they need to successfully participate in the community and develop into independent, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

Teens are also a focus for the Pennsylvania Health Law Project. The organization serves vulnerable youth in alternative education sites and involved in the juvenile justice system. These teens are often living in diverse household structures and frequently unaware of health care coverage options. Their successful program uses navigators who provide enrollment assistance to meet teens' schedule demands, offers lunch to the teens, works with case managers to identify youth without insurance, and checks the Medicaid enrollee database to identify eligible youth.

We want to hear your success story!

It's great to learn how organizations are connecting kids to coverage and using Campaign materials on the ground! Share your stories with the Campaign via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or Twitter using #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll in tweets. Be sure to include any tactics for outreach and enrollment with multi-generational families in your community including activities that you are currently planning or have used in recent years!