Outreach is a very complex, time consuming, and often, challenging endeavor. The purpose of outreach is to ensure that every community member is aware of the Children’s Health Initiative and how to access the application assistance services. It includes hundreds of presentations, participation in important community events, mass distribution of flyers, appointment reminder calls by telephone, neighborhood canvassing and media messages. Below are some of the key outreach methods used by CHI partners since the inception of the Children’s Health Initiative.
Establishing a CHI Phone Center
A primary outreach strategy employed in the implementation of CHI is the development of a dedicated toll free phone line and phone center to respond to questions about CHI, provide referrals to application assistance located throughout the county, and effectively support marketing strategies. The bilingual Certified Application Assistors (CAAs) located in the CHI Phone Center have two primary functions. First, they manage inbound informational calls, respond to requests for application assistance (for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and Healthy Kids applications), and distribute these requests to the appropriate application assistance site. Second, they provide application assistance for the patients of Valley Health Center at Bascom on an appointment and walk-in basis.
The CHI phone center staff routinely asks callers to identify where they have learned about CHI and then document it on the referral form for purposes of understanding the most effective means of reaching the community. Strikingly, 66% of all callers in 2002 indicated that they had heard about CHI from others who were informed about the initiative, making “word of mouth” the most effective outreach strategy.
While it is important to continuously educate site staff to ensure appropriate utilization of CHI representatives, it is also critical to inform community members on how they can access a CAA at a location near them. A dedicated training and events team was created to provide ongoing presentations and events to reach community members and promote greater visibility of the Children’s Health Initiative.
CHI staff has made hundreds of presentations at churches, schools, health collaboratives, community-based organizations, county departments, and health providers. Staff has also participated in informational events such as health fairs, PTA meetings, Tet festivals (Vietnamese New Year), Cinco de Mayo festivals, and Chinese Summer festivals, where they distribute language appropriate CHI flyers. Many times an informational event will result in a list of interested parents who want to sign their kids up for health insurance. If this occurs, an application event (or session) is scheduled within a short time frame to capitalize on the families’ enthusiasm to obtain insurance coverage for their children. CHI staff will often call the parents prior to the application event to set up an appointment and/or make a reminder call about their appointment time. The application event typically involves several CAAs who set up confidential spaces at a local church, school, or community center where they can work with the families. These events usually occur in evenings and weekends when it is more convenient for the parents.
Application events can also occur when community organizations have identified a significant population of uninsured kids within a particular geographic area. Sometimes radio spots, local newspaper articles, and flyers are used to advertise the date, time, and place of the event. These events can include incentives to attend such as food, clowns, balloons, face painting, and/or other CHI gifts (such as water bottles, lip balm, bubble pens, and chip clips). Please see the Monthly Events Calendar
for upcoming events.
Another outreach method commonly used to increase community awareness of CHI or inform the community about a specific event is door-to-door canvassing in local neighborhoods, passing out flyers with the toll freeline and/or local event information.
Developing a County Wide School Outreach Plan
School Outreach has been the focus of the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) of Santa Clara County since the fall of 2001, providing access to appropriate CHI information and services for every public school in the county. Partners involved in the school outreach collaborative include Alum Rock Union Elementary School District, Casa en Casa, Consumer’s Union, The Health Trust, Resources for Families and Communities, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, Social Services Agency, Valley CHI, and Westside CHI. The goal of the collaborative outreach activities is to maximize resources, promote coordination, utilize Best Practices, and to respond to individual school and district requests for CHI information and services. It was recognized that each school district in the county was unique in population, resources, and need for services, thus each district was given the opportunity to give input in creating a tailored school outreach plan.
The interest of the school and district staff and the amount of resources they are willing to invest in efforts to identify and refer uninsured children directly affects the level of success possible within each district. Once the district chose specific schools identified by need and resources, the school staff members were educated about CHI and a referral process was established. School staff would identify potentially eligible children through various tactics such as kids enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program and/or children who had significant numbers of sick days and/or absenteeism. Another method used to identify potentially eligible kids was administering surveys to parents through the schools that asked if they currently had insurance for their children.
The referral process included school administration, teachers, therapists, secretaries, attendance clerks, probation officers, health clerks, and nurses. School staff joined the outreach effort by incorporating CHI in their annual events: Teachers handed out CHI flyers and information at parent-teacher conferences; Migrant Programs, Healthy Start, and on-site preschools referred and educated families they encountered, and administration invited CHI staff to school events for informational purposes.
Certified Application Assistors (CAAs) work very hard to raise the community awareness of CHI within the schools and their surrounding neighborhoods. Some of the most effective outreach methods used to increase this awareness included: education by word of mouth; flyer distribution at local businesses and community centers (such as Family Daycare Providers); neighborhood canvassing; on-site application assistance; telephone appointment reminders; school staff and parent presentations (click here to view English; Spanish; and Vietnamese PowerPoint Presentations); and attending information events (such as Back to School Nights).
Designing an Effective PR and Marketing Plan
A PR and Marketing Committee was established by the CHI Policy group to coordinate culturally relevant and consistent marketing messages used to reach the diverse Santa Clara County population. This coordinated strategy results in the consolidation and maximization of valuable resources. Key members of this committee include Santa Clara Family Health Plan, Santa Clara County Health & Hospital System, Social Services Agency, The Health Trust, Valley CHI, and CHI public relations and marketing consultants. The CHI PR and Marketing Committee reports back to the CHI Policy group on a regular basis.
Some of the strategies utilized in marketing the Children’s Health Initiative have included:
- Creating a CHI logo;
- Producing radio spots and PSAs (Public Service Announcement) in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese;
- Developing print advertisements in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese;
- Promoting Healthy Kids on Spanish and English television stations;
- Developing tri-lingual ads on buses and bus shelters;
- Creating CHI flyers and other collateral in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese;
- Displaying tri-lingual CHI banners and posters at CAA sites, events, schools, and CHI partner organizations;
- Designing a CHI website “CHIkids.org”; and
- Maintaining close collaboration with San Jose Mercury News and local community newspapers on CHI milestones.