Hints For Getting Children
Enrolled In Health Care Programs:
Beatrize de la Rocha
Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District
Excerpts from the interview:
- Let parents know that there are programs available. Parents are not taking advantage of a lot of programs their children are entitled to; programs that will help their children, themselves, their family, their community, the world. And if the children are healthy, we all stay healthier.
- Reach out to parents through the schools. We're finding that parents feel comfortable coming to schools. So together with our partners, either community-based organizations or community hospitals, we're able to bring parents information about health care and help them enroll here at a school site.
- Educate parents about new programs and health care systems. I think some of the difficulty comes in with parents having to learn about prevention or paying into a health insurance program while you're healthy, knowing that you're paying a premium every month to be able to have health care insurance that's going to help your children. That's something new for a lot of parents.
- Simplify the application process. Healthy Families started as a really long application; I think it was twenty-something pages at one time. So it was just really complicated for any person to fill it out. We were finding that even people with college degrees had a difficult time filling out these applications. So that's been simplified. That's now down to four pages, which has made a big difference. I think that one of the biggest issues was the length of the application and simplifying it, deleting questions that really didn't make sense or most families didn't know weren't really necessary to obtain health insurance.
- Encourage word-of-mouth. I think what's been most effective is parents telling other parents. [W]hat we have found has been [the] most productive way to utilize our funding is to be able to hire parents from the community, who communities trust to be able to spread the word. And parents are the best people, especially parents who have been enrolled themselves in Healthy Families or other health care programs and believe in the program and the positive impact that it has on that family, the advantages to having health care, insurance. They're able to tell other parents and recruit that way.
- Develop personal relationships with the parents. It's difficult to sign people up. It takes a lot of personal contact, a lot of phone calling. If you have a personal relationship, that's really important. If they know you from school or they trust you, they'll come.
- Help parents make health care a priority. For the most part, many families have so many other priorities that sometimes health care isn't a priority until an emergency comes up.