HEALTHY FAMILIES: Ventura County Lags Behind State In Enrollment
Ventura County children are underrepresented in Healthy Families, with only 4% of eligible children in the county enrolled in the program, a figure that is even lower than already-low statewide numbers. The Ventura County Star reports that since July, only 6% of California's 400,000 eligible children have enrolled in Healthy Families, a statistic disappointing health officials and children's advocates alike. Observers say the application length, are widespread misconceptions about the program and immigration policy discourage many parents from enrolling their children. Jean Bridges, benefits specialist for the Ventura County Human Services Agency said of the application, "You would have to be a person who does her own income taxes to figure it out."
Working Out The Kinks
Although the state has agreed to streamline the application, "advocates argue that families should be asked simply to provide basic income information on a joint application and let a central processing agency determine which programs their children qualify for." Dawn Horner of The Children's Partnership asserts, "That one change could really go a long way in making this program a success." In addition, the Star reports that parents often believe that if they work at all, their children will not qualify for the program, even though children of families with an annual income between $16,450 and $32,900 qualify. In an effort to boost enrollment through its "alliances with community groups," Ventura County recently increased the "stipend it pays each individual or group that enrolls a child form $25 to $50," said Bridges (Salliant, 10/26). Click here for previous CHL coverage of Healthy Families enrollment efforts.