In February of 2010, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius issued a bold, forward looking challenge to groups who care about children’s health coverage. The Secretary’s Challenge: Connecting Kids to Coverage is a five-year campaign to find and insure the nearly 5 million uninsured children eligible for Medicaid or CHIP and to keep them covered for as long as they qualify. From federal officials to community organizations, few are exempt from the Challenge’s call, and its goal is as ambitious as it is attainable. Community Catalyst has stepped up to the Challenge through our children’s health project, and we want to encourage you to ‘step up’ to the Challenge as well. Through working with the administration and with our great state partners, we’ve learned some important lessons on effective strategies to connect kids to coverage.

There are many things an organization, municipality, business, or others can do to advance the goal of covering kids. To achieve success, organizations that decide to step up will need to employ one or more of the “5 Ways to Step up to the Challenge”: cut red tape; capitalize on technology; create opportunities to sign up; focus on retention; and forge partnerships.

For example, University of South Florida’s Florida Covering Kids and Families campaign has successfully forged partnerships with the local community to improve enrollment. These partnerships can arise by reaching out to town offices for access to public events and coverage fairs, or working with recreational departments to participate in child focused or wellness events.

Connecting with small businesses can help you reach a new pool of potentially eligible kids. Advocates can work with local chambers or trade associations to present enrollment information as a valuable service to employees whose children may qualify for public programs. In a similar vein, reaching out to schools can also be an effective tactic at the local level. Participating in events aimed at parents such as parent-teacher conferences and wellness fairs puts you in direct contact with the most valuable stakeholders. During the summer months, working with camps and day programs provides a similarly effective opportunity, especially amongst the public and subsidized programs that host lower-income children and families who may be eligible for coverage.

Community Catalyst’s goal is to help as many organizations as possible to “Step up to the Challenge” and help more children get enrolled in health coverage. Signing up for the Challenge is quick and easy. Once you identify a way in which your work is or will be tackling one of the “5 Ways to Step up to the Challenge,” simply go the website, create an account, and submit your organization’s name and a brief description of the innovative and effective ways it is connecting kids to coverage. Visit the website here to get started, and find out which organizations have already stepped up here. We want to help. If you have any questions or would like assistance in signing your organization up for the Challenge, please contact Jake Mogan at

 — Nicole Tambouret, Project Director  &   Jake Mogan, Intern, New England Alliance for Children’s Health