For Immediate Release
October 22, 2015
For More Information Contact:
Anat Kelman Shaw, (713) 664-4080
akelman@childrensdefense.org

 

Texas School Leaders Tout Health Care Coverage, Access Essential to Student Learning and Performance
Transforming School Cultures to Link Uninsured Children to Coverage

HOUSTON, TX – Today, Thursday, October 22, the leaders of three large Texas school districts are meeting in Houston to discuss how their districts are leading efforts to reduce our state’s shamefully high rate of uninsured children. Recently released U.S. Census data showed that, once again, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people, the highest number of uninsured people, the second highest rate of uninsured children, and is home to more uninsured children than any other state in the country. Texas school officials are in a unique position to see the daily impact on schoolchildren, and the essential link between health care and education.

For the past three years, leaders of the Houston Independent School District, Alief Independent School District and Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District have worked together in partnership with Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), AASA—The School Superintendents Association, to identify their uninsured children through school enrollment forms and release important information and resources to families in need of low-, reduced- cost or free health care coverage options through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Children’s Medicaid.  Funded by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, the project is coordinated by CDF and AASA and builds upon CDF-Texas’ nationally recognized, best practice model of partnering with local schools to link uninsured children with the health coverage they need to grow, learn, and thrive.

“School districts like Houston, Alief and Edinburg CISD have been natural allies in our efforts to ensure every Texas child has a healthy start in life, because schools see and feel where the rubber meets the road so to speak,” said Laura Guerra-Cardus, Texas Associate Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. “We expect schools to be successful in educating every child despite the odds stacked against them. With more than 1.7 million Texas children living in poverty and nearly 784,000 Texas children lacking healthcare coverage, schools experience firsthand when children aren’t feeling well or coming to school ready to learn,” Guerra-Cardus added.

Unique to this effort is that while many Texas lawmakers are quick to pit funding for health care against funding for education, schools themselves are driving an important conversation that the link between health care and education is irrefutable; that health care is essential to learning and school performance; and that when children are covered, they miss fewer days of school due to illness, and come to school better prepared to learn. AASA, an instrumental partner in the design and implementation of the project, has helped capture the attention and participation of school officials across the country, including in California, Georgia, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Delta.

“When schools take up the challenge of connecting their students to health care coverage, our children do better, our schools do better, we all do better,” said Sharon Adams-Taylor, Associate Executive Director of AASA-The Superintendents’ Association. “School superintendents we work with across the country understand that our children’s health is our business, and that essential to children’s performance in school is their ability to feel well and get the health care they need outside of school,” Adams-Taylor added.

CDF-Texas, AASA and their school district partners hope that school officials in districts across Texas and the U.S. will embrace similar efforts and think creatively about ways more schools can connect more uninsured children to health coverage and care year-round, and especially during the upcoming open enrollment period for the health care Marketplace which runs nationwide November 1st through January 31st.

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