Edinburg Consolidated ISD, Houston ISD and Alief ISD were praised recently by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA – The School Superintendents Association) for the efforts those districts are making to connect uninsured children to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Edinburg CISD Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Rene Gutierrez; Albert Lopez, Director of Health Services; and Sandra A. Rodriguez, Parental Involvement Program Supervisor, met with CDF and AASA officials in Houston to discuss what the Edinburg school district is doing to link uninsured children to health care coverage.
For the past three years, leaders from these three school districts have worked together in partnership with the CDF and AASA to identify their uninsured children through school enrollment forms and the release of important information and resources to families in need of low-, reduced- cost or free health care coverage options through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Children’s Medicaid. Funded by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, the project is coordinated by CDF and AASA and builds upon CDF-Texas’ nationally recognized, best practice model of partnering with local schools to link uninsured children with the health coverage they need to grow, learn, and thrive.
Edinburg CISD presented a short video produced by the district’s Public Information Office to show what Edinburg is doing to reduce the rate of uninsured children in the district. The partnering groups (CDF and AASA) plan on distributing the video through nationally distributed newsletters. Recently released U.S. Census data shows that Texas is home to more uninsured children than any other state in the country.
“School districts like Edinburg CISD, Houston ISD, and Alief ISD have been natural allies in our efforts to ensure every Texas child has a healthy start in life, because schools see and feel where the rubber meets the road so to speak,” said Laura Guerra-Cardus, Texas Associate Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. “We expect schools to be successful in educating every child despite the odds stacked against them. With more than 1.7 million Texas children living in poverty and nearly 784,000 Texas children lacking healthcare coverage, schools experience firsthand when children aren’t feeling well or coming to school ready to learn,” Guerra-Cardus said.
“When schools take up the challenge of connecting their students to health care coverage, our children do better, our schools do better, we all do better,” said Sharon Adams-Taylor, Associate Executive Director of AASA-The Superintendents’ Association. “School superintendents we work with across the country understand that our children’s health is our business, and that essential to children’s performance in school is their ability to feel well and get the health care they need outside of school,” said Adams-Taylor.
CDF-Texas, AASA and their school district partners hope that school officials in districts across Texas and the U.S. will embrace similar efforts and think creatively about ways more schools can connect more uninsured children to health coverage and care year-round, and especially during the upcoming open enrollment period for the health care Marketplace which runs nationwide November 1st through January 31st.