Program To Help Identify Uninsured Children Through School Lunch Program Begins
The Coalition for Healthy Learning, a not-for-profit group of California businesses and health care leaders, is launching an initiative to help almost 700,000 low-income families in four counties enroll their children in public health programs, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Beginning July 1, the initiative, called Express Lane Eligibility, will allow parents in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and Santa Clara counties to release financial information to social service agencies when applying for free school lunch programs. If the agencies determine that the children qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, they can be enrolled without filling out a separate application for the programs. About 70% of children who are in California's school lunch programs are uninsured, according to the Urban Institute. Wendy Lazarus, executive director of the Children's Partnership, which is spearheading the project, said the program will be particularly useful in identifying children in traditionally hard-to-reach groups, such as Latinos and children older than age 13. The outreach pilot program, established through a state law signed in October 2001 and partly funded by grants from the California Endowment and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, was expected to begin last summer. However, the state budget deficit prompted Gov. Gray Davis (D) to cut almost $6 million in state funds for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, the AP/Times reports. While funding for the program next year has not yet been secured, Lazarus said she is hopeful that the state will provide financial support for the program (Chu, AP/Contra Costa Times, 11/30).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.