Grassroots Recruiting Effort Boosts Healthy Families Enrollment
California is experiencing an "enrollment upswing" in Healthy Families, due in large part to a "grassroots effort" in recruiting, the Contra Costa Times reports. Enrollment in the program has increased by 20% statewide since last fall, and Alameda and Contra Costa counties have each increased enrollment by about 50%. Approximately 470,000 children are now enrolled, with 100,000 joining in the last four months. The "magic bullet" has been better community outreach, the Times reports, with health officials getting the "Healthy Families message" out to schools, churches and social centers. The approach replaces television and billboard advertising that failed to reach enough "target families," according to Jose Carvahal, a consultant for Alameda County's Health Care Services department. "We are creating a new way to educate the providers and the consumers and the families about how to use the program," Carvahal said. One particular reason for the program's recent success has been the ability to raise awareness of the program among Latino families, Carvahal added. The Times reports that state figures and research by UCLA show Latinos make up 62% of the uninsured child population. According to the Times, Healthy Families has been "one of the most underused anti-poverty offerings" in the nation since its inception three years ago, and state officials have "long bemoaned its chronic underuse." In March of last year, "only about half" of the state's estimated 535,000 eligible children were enrolled, and approximately 33% of eligible kids in Alameda County were enrolled before this year. The Times reports that county officials are "heartened" by the increased enrollment, hoping it will prevent the loss of federal funds California experienced last year. In 2000, underuse of the program cost the state $341 million in federal funds, as federal law requires states to return a portion of unused CHIP money three years after receiving it (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 8/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.