Other Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Additional Best Practices and Lessons Learned:
- Neighborhood watch meetings. Providing short presentations and written materials at neighborhood watch meetings is a simple way to reach potentially eligible families in targeted neighborhoods. Forms that request information from attendees in order to gauge interest for more information can be completed at the meeting, collected and sent to an outside (or in-house) CAA for follow-up contact and assistance with enrollment.
- Ethnic affairs commissions or meetings. Brief presentations, both in English and other appropriate languages, about affordable health insurance options to ethnic community groups is a relatively simple means of outreach. Providing interest surveys for more information can be completed at the meeting, collected and sent to an outside (or in-house) CAA for follow-up.
- Children’s health insurance information available at agency facilities. Provide pamphlets about affordable health insurance, as well as referral cards, at agency facilities, such as libraries, parks and recreation departments and community centers. When connected with Best Practices #3, this is a way to provide ongoing outreach to potentially eligible families.
- Combine enrollment opportunities with other activities. Stand alone enrollment events generally are resource intensive and may not be cost-effective, relative to the number of families that ultimately complete applications. In order to use resources more efficiently, enrollment opportunities can be combined with other activities, such as health or resource fairs, community center grand openings, or festivals. Structured properly, these combined activities can result in more efficient use of health plan and CHI resources, as plan and CHI staff can provide assistance in completing applications at the same time they encourage completion of referral cards by other attendees for subsequent contact and enrollment assistance.
- Work with schools for outreach. Partnering with schools can assist with outreach for community events and/or enrollment activities. Different options for collaboration exist, depending upon the individual community and school site. For example, combining school outreach with a community health fair with enrollment assistance opportunities may be an effective use of resources in some circumstances.
More tips for success:
- Match objectives and resources to event type. Community events, such as health fairs, festivals and celebrations, are not effective as health insurance enrollment events. However, they can be effective in providing information to families and gathering referrals, which with follow-up by health plans or local CAAs, help families through the enrollment process.
- Plan enrollment events carefully. In our enthusiasm to get children enrolled in affordable health insurance programs, sometimes we under-estimate the work involved in planning and executing a successful enrollment event. An enrollment event, where families with eligible children come for assistance in completing the insurance application, requires considerable time and resources for those providing the assistance. These individuals may be representatives from health plans, the county CHI, or a local community clinic or certified application assistant. A stand alone event may not be the best use of scarce resources, if only two or three families attend to receive enrollment assistance. However, if more families attend because pre-event contacts, appointments and follow-up reminders have been done, then such an event may be appropriate. As discussed elsewhere there are alternatives to enrollment events that can assist families.
- Referral cards are vital. It is important that health plans and others participating in enrollment and outreach events bring referral cards for pro-active follow-up for application assistance. Relying only on call center follow-up by potential clients’ results in significant missed opportunities. CHK has developed back-up referral cards to bring to all activities in case one or more plans do not provide them.
- Turn events into educational opportunities. Adding an educational component to an enrollment event can help attract attendees and transform the event into a broader family educational activity.
- Follow up and confirm. When appointments have been made for families attending an enrollment event, be sure to contact the families a day or so prior to the event to remind them about the appointment.
- Kids just want to have fun. Consider providing entertainment for children, such as puzzles, face painting or drawing, at enrollment events where entire families are invited to attend. Where the event is held at a “safe” neighborhood center, use of parental release forms for children to participate in such entertainment generally is not necessary, due to the trusted nature of the facility and staff.
- Avoid conflicting event dates. To the extent feasible, make sure that enrollment events are not scheduled for the same day as other area events. Similarly, in neighborhoods where parents work two jobs, including weekends, holding outreach and/or enrollment events on Saturday mornings may limit the number of parents able to attend.
- Work with local partners early. Regardless of what type of activity you are planning, involving the health plans, CHIs and other local partners early in the planning process helps develop potentially long term relationships and buy-in from the local participants. This is especially important where local partners are involved in enrollment or community events, which require staff and other resources on the part of the plans and CHIs.
- CAAs are a key resource. Working with local certified application assistants (CAAs) is an effective way to secure referrals and enrollments at community events, such as movie night in the park, that do not lend themselves to activities involving health plans, but nevertheless attract potentially eligible families (to learn more about CAAs click on CAA website).
- Working with county and CHIs is critical. For city projects, working with county staff and Children’s Health Initiative (where available) staff to identify effective activity is key to promoting collaboration and avoiding duplication and overlap. CHI and county staff have experience in outreach and enrollment and can help guide the project.
Sensitivity to people
- Literacy issues require additional strategies. Possible lack of reading proficiency within the target audience, especially in non-English speaking communities, needs to be recognized and considered when designing outreach methods. Thus, in addition to written publicity, use of ethnic radio and faith based organizations can be helpful to get the word out.
- Word choices matter. In communities with high numbers of undocumented families, written material should not use the term documents – as in bring the following documents to the event.
- Small gestures matter. Where possible, provide lunch directly (or through a ticket to vendor provided lunches) to local partners invited to participate at enrollment events or health fairs. This is a positive way to say thank you to the assisting groups.
Working with schools
- Collaborating with schools presents special issues. Working with schools can be an effective to reach more parents of eligible children. Additional lessons learned when working with schools include the following.
* There are several models with which to collaborate with schools.
* Working with schools may require a longer planning horizon, and should consider potential impacts of periods when children are not in school, such as during summer vacation.
* Participating local partners need to be nimble and flexible in order to design activities that fit both school and city/county culture.
* Cities and counties can use existing connections with school administrators, board members and teachers for collaboration.
Teachers for Healthy Kids (A collaborating partner of the CHK project)