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Parent Mentors are Helping Families Enroll Children in Medicaid and CHIP in Communities Nationwide

December 19, 2018

The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign strives to identify opportunities where organizations can enroll and retain children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and provide guidance to implement these opportunities locally.

In a number of communities, “Parent Mentors” have become an effective avenue to assist families in obtaining health coverage. Parents Mentors are a specialized form of community health workers. They are parents of Medicaid and CHIP-eligible children who, through additional certified training, leverage their own enrollment experience to assist and counsel other parents.

In the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign’s most recent webinar, Parent Mentors served as the devoted topic of discussion, led by Dr. Glenn Flores, a key advocate and one of the leading researchers who has studied the impact and influence of Parent Mentors.

As Chief Research Officer and Director of the Health Services Research Institute at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Professor of Pediatrics and the Associate Chair of Research at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Dr. Flores is the architect of Kids’ HELP (Health Insurance by Educating Lots of Parents), a program he developed that trains Parent Mentors to both identify and enroll eligible families in health coverage.

Parent Mentors educate families with uninsured children about health insurance options and assist them with completing and submitting applications to get these families covered. As Dr. Flores described, “These are experienced parents who already have a child covered by Medicaid or CHIP who received training to assist other parents with uninsured children.”

Additionally, Parent Mentors can provide guidance on identifying medical and dental homes and community pharmacies for children, provide assistance and referrals to successfully address social determinants of children’s health, and act as a liaison between families and the state.

The Impact of Parent Mentors

With the Kids’ HELP Program, Dr. Flores and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center is working to highlight research that reinforces the importance of Parent Mentors in enrolling eligible families and children in public health insurance programs, such as Medicaid and CHIP.

Parent Mentors are chosen through an eligibility screening process. Initial candidates are recruited from primary care and specialty clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), emergency departments, schools, and community-based organizations, among many others. Before Parent Mentors can begin working with uninsured families, they must also undergo a brief training session. There, Parent Mentors learn about different types of insurance programs, health coverage applications and renewals, and how to best assist families with food, clothing, and other social determinants of health.

As the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Kids’ HELP trial program determined, Parent Mentors have been proven to be effective partners in identifying and enrolling eligible families in Medicaid and CHIP coverage, and more effective than traditional Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment methods in insuring eligible, uninsured Latino and African-American children.

Visit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center website, and watch these engaging videos on the eligibility screening process and how Parent Mentors are trained for more information on Kids’ HELP and Parent Mentors.

HEALTHY KIDS 2019 Outreach and Enrollment Funding Opportunity

Organizations can apply for funding under the Connecting Kids to Coverage HEALTHY KIDS 2019 Outreach and Enrollment Cooperative Agreement Program, as authorized under the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2018. The purpose of this program is to increase the participation of eligible, uninsured children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Grants awarded under the cooperative agreement will fund outreach and enrollment strategies aimed at educating families about the availability of Medicaid and CHIP and directly assisting families with the application and renewal process. This specific funding opportunity makes available $48 million in cooperative agreements to states, local governments, Indian tribes, tribal consortium, urban Indian organizations receiving funds under Title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, federal health safety net organizations, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and schools. For more information and to apply for funding, please visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=310663.

We want to hear your success story!

Has your organization implemented Parent Mentors as a resource in targeted outreach strategies to enroll kids and families in Medicaid and CHIP? If so, we'd like to learn how your organization is connecting kids to coverage! Share details with the Campaign via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or on Twitter using the hashtags #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll. 

Stay Connected with the Campaign

  • Share our materials widely. We have an ever-growing Outreach Tool Library featuring resources to use in outreach and enrollment efforts, including materials in other languages.
  • Contact us to get more involved with the Campaign at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov
  • Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Don't forget to re-tweet or share our messages with your network or use our #Enroll365 and/or #KidsEnroll hashtags in your posts.

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