One of the benefits of working with the school community is the multiple channels of communication available to reach the parents of eligible, uninsured children. Once you have identified a school-based outreach strategy that will work for your community, you can conduct various outreach activities that will reach families.
School registration and orientation, back-to-school nights, PTA/organization meetings, parent-teacher conferences, athletic season openers and training camps all provide good outreach opportunities.
Following is a checklist of outreach activities to get the message out to parents to enroll their children in Medicaid and SCHIP:
Provide information during back-to-school registration. Prepare materials in advance to insert into back-to-school packets and to make available at back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences. Order free materials.
Distribute information about available health care coverage throughout the school community. Make information available by displaying posters on bulletin boards, handing out fliers at sporting events and school pick-up and drop-off locations, and asking teachers and nurses to send information home with students.
Organize a health and enrollment fair. Work with your local PTA, school administrator and local health care organizations to host a health fair on school grounds, secure food and entertainment, advertise the event to parents, provide incentives for enrollment, and provide application assistance. For more information on planning a health and enrollment fair, download the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign Action Kit.
Work with the staff of state or local Medicaid and SCHIP agencies to station outreach workers at schools. Provide application assisters on-site at designated dates and times to help families fill out applications, determine eligibility, identify required documents and mail applications to the appropriate place.
Publish an article in the school newsletter. Make it easy for schools to communicate your message by providing them with an article to include in newsletters educating parents about the availability of low-cost or free health care coverage. Download and tailor the template Drop-In Article for School Newsletters.
Ask families, school personnel and older students to tell a friend. Word of mouth is a great communications vehicle.
For additional strategies on school-based outreach, download the series of issue briefs written by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for Covering Kids & Families.
Approximately 2 million of the nation's 6.5 million low-income children are younger than age 6, and since their parents are likely to be working, they are likely to receive day care in an early childhood program. Staff of child care centers, family child care homes, preschools, after-school programs, and early childhood programs such as Head Start, have an important role to play in ensuring the health of children in their care.
Early childhood programs can help link children to health care coverage by:
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Enrolling Children in Health Coverage Before They Start School: Activities for Early Childhood Programs," October 2001.