Bob Garcia, Regional Administrator, Region 9
Healthcare is an issue for families across the country. In Arizona, we’ve been working to connect Runaway and Homeless Youth programs and Head Start programs with healthcare navigators, who provide one-on-one enrollment assistance. This way, we can help far more eligible individuals and families get the coverage they need.
The work has been focused in Maricopa County. Maricopa is the largest county in Arizona, holding about 60% of Arizona’s population. It also has a large portion of the state’s homeless population (about 70% (PDF) Visit disclaimer page ) and most of the state’s uninsured, including many unaccompanied youth without insurance Visit disclaimer page .
During a visit in November, I spent time with two venues that have done impressive work connecting their clients with healthcare services.
Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development is a private, non-profit corporation that has been providing direct services to runaway and homeless youth since 1975, and the only ACF Runaway and Homeless Youth grantee in Maricopa County. They provide a wide variety of services including street outreach, drop-in services, emergency shelter, and transitional living solutions.
An ACA navigator from the University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health will be conducting an ACA 101 training session with the staff at Tumbleweed. After that, the navigator will be at the center on a regular basis providing one-on-one enrollment assistance appointments for clients. Many of these young adults have never had health insurance and this will be their first chance to take this important step.
A Certified Application Counselor Visit disclaimer page is onsite once a week. She provides direct enrollment assistance to parents at the school, and has been booked for weeks. While Head Start children are usually covered, their families often aren’t, and many of our Head Start families would qualify for Medicaid or for subsidies through the Marketplace.
Speaking at the Arizona Head Start Association’s Board meeting, I talked about what I’d seen at the facilities I’d visited, and the work Arizona Alliance for Arizona Community Health Centers Visit disclaimer page has done to place navigators in several Head Start facilities throughout the state. I challenged those in the audience to take the opportunity to connect their families with a navigator or certified application counselor in order to make healthcare appointments for Head Start families.
Healthcare is crucial to the people we serve. By bringing the information to them and connecting services, we can better help children, youth, and families get the coverage they need.