Grant to ILG Allows Cities and Counties to Help Uninsured Children Get Coverage

Many city officials understand the link between health insurance for kids and some of the specific issues their communities are currently tackling, such as childhood obesity, at-risk youth, teen pregnancy, nutrition, truancy and public safety. But approximately 800,000 children in California do not have health insurance.  

What’s more, in 2005, approximately 200,000 children who were eligible for no- or low-cost health insurance through the Healthy Families program were not enrolled. What can your city do to help enroll its eligible children?

Communities for Healthy Kids

Increasing the number of children enrolled in no- and low-cost health insurance is the goal of a new Institute for Local Government (ILG) program, thanks to a three-year $1.6 million grant from the Blue Cross of California Foundation. Communities for Healthy Kids (CHK) will make it possible for ILG to help cities and counties work collaboratively with local health insurance companies and other state and local partners to identify and enroll kids who are eligible for health insurance through the Healthy Families Program or Medi-Cal.

Guided by an advisory committee, CHK is a joint effort of ILG, the League, the California Teachers Association, the California Association of Health Plans, the CCS (Cities, Counties and Schools) Partnership and Teachers for Healthy Kids, along with other state and local collaborating partners.

CHK is based on the results of focus groups conducted in 2006 in Riverside, Burbank, Fresno and Berkeley to determine city interest in a project to identify and enroll children who are eligible for no- or low-cost health insurance. These are children from low-income families (generally considered the working poor) who are not eligible for — and do not want to go on — welfare. For example, a family of four with an annual income of slightly more than $48,000 could qualify for affordable health insurance through California’s Healthy Families program. 

Three Levels of Local Participation

CHK offers cities and counties three ways to participate:

  • Level 1 — An intensive, three-year effort in at least six to 10 pilot communities to assess the different types of collaboration and outreach to enroll eligible kids;
  • Level 2 — A less intensive approach for interested cities and counties that are eager to get started sooner, providing more limited organizational and technical assistance; and
  • Level 3 — Availability of all CHK material to any community interested in launching a program with some coaching to maximize potential success.

Types of Outreach Opportunities

A variety of opportunities exist for participation. A city could work with its hospitality industry to reach the businesses’ employees and their families who lack health insurance, or two neighboring cities could collaborate to reach their low-income residents. Other options include involving police anti-gang programs, parks and recreation programs, library reading programs or distributing information at low-income housing operated by a redevelopment agency. Involvement of the health insurance companies that serve the area is essential.

Look for CHK updates on the ILG website (

This article appears in the May 2007 issue of Western City
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