The hunt is on to find every child in Chatham County who is uninsured. The goal is to get parents to sign up for free health coverage- if they qualify- and there are thousands who do but have not signed up. As the 2014 – 2015 school year comes to a close, an important reminder is going out to parents that it is not too late to get health insurance for your little ones. Right now, there are thousands of children in Chatham County who qualify for health insurance — but will wake up for school without coverage. Children need more than a security blanket and hope for the best when it comes to insurance. Hodge Elementary is one of several sites in Savannah where parents can sign up for public assistance, including enrolling their children in free health insurance programs.
There are thousands of children in Chatham County who are qualified for the free coverage, but they remain uninsured according to the Executive Director of Step Up Savannah. Suzanne Donovan says this is the year the Mayor’s Campaign for Healthy Kids and Families was launched and will continue through the end of 2015. The program is aiming high in terms of reducing the number of uninsured children in Chatham County. “We are looking to enroll 2,279 kids throughout Chatham County who we know are eligible for insurance but are uninsured,” Donovan says. Since it’s start in August, the campaign has enrolled nearly nine hundred children who started the school year off without health insurance, but Donovan says they want to see every qualified child receive the health coverage they need.
That is why the program offers enrollment locations outside the lobby of the Division of Family and Children’s Services. Hodge Elementary school in Savannah is one such location. Esther Perkins-Frazier is the Parent Involvement Coordinator at Hodge and she says she sees the need for a familiar environment for parents to open up to ask for help getting the services they need. In the end it is all about giving children what they need to succeed in the classroom. “A child cannot learn if a child is hungry. A child cannot learn if a child is sick. This is needed in Chatham County,” Frazier said. Providing personal attention and advocacy is just what some parents are looking for according to Fatima Ervin, a Community Ambassador with the program. Ervin says she sees appreciation written on the faces of the people she has helped so far. “I do see a sense of relief. I do see the sense of gratitude as far as the personal encounter… because as people we want to feel like people. We don’t always want to talk to an automated system. We want to talk with someone who can relate to us.”
It’s the personal touch of a face-to-face sign-up option that makes the difference for a lot of people when it comes to signing up. Donovan adds that health insurance is vital for providing the foundation for wellness in children, adding that there is a priceless by-product for parents when they finally get the coverage their child needs. “It is something that provides for any one of us, a peace of mind about a really critical piece of our lives and the development of our children. It all starts with basic good health.” She adds that people can enroll any time. There is no set enrollment period and people can enroll during operating hours at the St. Mary’s Community Center. Donovan adds that eligibility allows incomes in excess of $50,000 for a family of four to qualify for the the free insurance for their children.