Children's Defense Fund-Texas Ribbon Cutting Highlights Health Outreach, Enrollment Program

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February 22, 2017 - Ambassadors and community members attending the Children's Defense Fund - Texas (CDF-Texas) ribbon cutting on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at the Chamber of Commerce office learned about the organizations Health Outreach & Enrollment Program.

Ambassador president, Andi Foster, thanked everyone for coming and introduce Maria Salas, a Community Health Outreach Liaison, who spoke about the program, "We are the Texas State Office of the Children's Defense Fund. It is a non-profit advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty. We protect them from abuse and neglect and ensure access to healthcare, quality education, a moral [and spiritual] foundation."

Statistically she advised Shelby County has over 2,000 kids who are in need of being insured. Their goal is to help find those kids and help the families get them insured so they can have much needed health check-ups, dental check-ups, and vision care. She also said a family of four can make $50,000 and still be eligible to receive Children's Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP.)

WyKisha Thomas-McKinney, Program Director for Houston and East Texas, expounded on CDF-Texas and their primary focus which is to identify uninsured children and connect them to affordable health coverage primarily through CHIP and Children's Medicaid. "Texas still has the number spot for the most number of uninsured children. Most of them are uninsured individuals overall. But what a lot of people don't know is that roughly about half or a little more than half of uninsured children in Texas are qualified for CHIP and Children's Medicaid coverage."

The program has adopted and developed a model which works well with the school districts and other community organizations for identifying those children and connecting them to application assistance through CDF-Texas Outreach workers. The organization has even held enrollment drives at community grocery stores in order to connect with the community and help get children enrolled.

From left: Cindy Ross, Joanna Bennett, Maria Salas, WyKisha Thomas-McKenney, and Jake Cook

Representatives with CDF-Texas attending were Joanna Bennett, who covers Nacogdoches County, and Cindy Ross and Jake Cook who both are out of Tyler and cover Smith County.

Following the cutting of the ribbon, Thomas-McKinney spoke about additional programs CDF-Texas offers besides the Health Outreach & Enrollment which includes CDF Freedom Schools Program, Beat the Odds Program, Youth Development & Leadership, and Faith Based Action.

Maria Salas is available at Tri-County Community Action on Thursdays in room 3. For more information about CDF-Texas, visit