Jacksonville is among 22 cities awarded a planning grant from The National League of Cities to make significant reductions in the numbers of uninsured children. The Jacksonville Children's Commission is administering the grant with support from the Health Planning Council in creating a strategic plan to cut the number of uninsured children in Jacksonville by half. Currently, there are 25,000 uninsured children in Jacksonville facing major obstacles to growing up healthy. Without regular check-ups, children miss immunizations, screenings and treatments putting them at greater risk of illness and missing too many school days. Mental health issues are estimated to affect one in every five children, yet uninsured children often go without needed care and services. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti recently stated that untreated student mental health issues have become one of the top three challenges facing Duval County Public Schools.
Dawn Emerick, President and CEO of the Health Planning Council says that while the problem of uninsured children is complex and long unsolved, the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders will make a plan for enrolling 12,500 children achievable. Stakeholder groups identified as "Input Givers," "Buy-In Providers" and "Decision Makers" are coming together in a series of leadership meetings to troubleshoot obstacles in the current KidCare system.
"We envision that as a result of our planning activities and business plan execution, our community's leadership will be clear about its priorities for KidCare outreach, alignment of efforts and resources, and ongoing accountability for efforts," Emerick said in the first of three planning meetings.
If Jacksonville is successful in its planning grant it will be awarded $260,000 to begin implementation next year. Healthy kids come to school ready to learn and succeed - so we know that this initiative will be a monumental step forward for children in our city.
To get involved call the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida (904-301-3678) or the Jacksonville Children's Commission (904-630-3647).