School-Based Outreach: Getting Started
Updated: 8.7.06 Printable version
Understanding the landscape is an important first step.
Become familiar with your school community's academic calendar. Research the start and end dates for traditional schools, year-round schools and summer school programs, and note important meetings, parent-teacher conference and school event dates that could provide opportunities to reach parents.
Research school resources. Schools vary tremendously in the ways they interact with families. They may have health clinics, nutrition specialists or parent liaison programs where school staff work directly with parents. Find out what groups provide the best avenue through which to implement your outreach strategy.
Research financial and other benefits to schools. Check with your state's education and health agencies to find out if local schools qualify for Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) funding for outreach and training activities.
Identify a children's health care champion. Recruit an educator, principal, school nurse, School Lunch Program staffer or parent who knows the school and school system and can introduce you to key decision-makers. Work cooperatively to gain the support of leaders within the school district, such as the superintendent or the director of school nurses.
Think beyond the local elementary school. Consider including middle and high schools, preschools, day care centers, vocational/trade schools, private schools (including those of faith) and adult education classes in your outreach efforts.
Use available data to target low-income school districts. Work with your state Medicaid office to obtain data on areas in your state with a high number of potentially eligible children. Contact your local School Lunch Program office to see if they have data on the school districts with a high number of children enrolled in their program.
Engage school-based organizations and leaders in your coalition. Once you have identified key decision-makers, invite them to your coalition meeting to discuss what they can do to help enroll children in Medicaid and SCHIP. Explain that many children in your state lack health care coverage, and that there are health and educational consequences. Participants might include:
- State Medicaid or CHIP director. For your state's Medicaid and CHIP program Web site, go to the Insure Kids Now! Web site at www.insurekidsnow.gov.
- State Department of Education staff. To find your state's Department of Education, visit the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
- School Nurses Association leader. To find out if your state has an affiliate of the National Association of School Nurses, visit their Web site.
- School Lunch Program staff. Find your state's field office for the National School Lunch Program.
- Parent Teacher Association (PTA). To find your state's PTA affiliate, go to the National PTA's Web site.
- Other education leaders. Your state's Education Association may be a good resource to identify other key education leaders within your state or community. To find your state's National Education Association affiliate, visit their Web site.
- Other school and youth organizations. View a list of Covering Kids & Families supporters, including more than 15 school-based and youth organizations. Many of these national organizations have local chapters or affiliates in your state, which can be found on their individual Web sites.
Tools for Making the Pitch
There are several tools available to assist you in explaining the outreach opportunities available to school-based organizations and leaders. The following tools can be downloaded or ordered from the Covering Kids & Families Web site:
Template Letter to School Administrators or Organizations - Customize this letter to send to school-based organizations, school administrators and other education leaders inviting them to join your coalition and support your school-based outreach efforts.
PowerPoint Presentation - This template PowerPoint can be used to explain the benefits of participating in Covering Kids & Families outreach efforts.