The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) are reaching out to parents across the state to make sure children have what they need for a healthy and happy school year. “Good health is imperative to success in the classroom,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller. “This year we are emphasizing two things in particular: changes to the state’s vaccine schedule and the availability of health insurance for children who qualify.”
New regulations governing the state’s immunization schedule for infants, toddlers and school-age children took effect July 1, increasing or altering the types and amounts of certain vaccines required for school entry. Immunization requirements were updated to better align Kentucky’s schedule with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new version of the administrative regulation adopts changes that put the Commonwealth in line with national pediatric standards. It is very important that parents familiarize themselves with changes to the vaccine schedule to make sure their child’s immunization record is approved for school entry.
“We have been working to make the public aware of the changes to the immunization schedule, particularly parents of children in child care facilities and enrolled in school,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Steve Davis, M.D. “This is an important issue in terms of licensing and regulatory standards, but it’s also a change designed to improve the health and well-being of our fellow Kentuckians.”
For more information, visit http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/Immunization+Program.htm.
Meanwhile, parents interested in obtaining health insurance for their children should visit http://kidshealth.ky.gov to earn more about the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP.) The program provides health insurance to children whose family income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $44,100 a year for a family of four.
Governor Steve Beshear launched a statewide initiative in 2008 to bolster enrollment in KCHIP, adding thousands of eligible children who previously had no health coverage. The effort includes a simplified mail-in application that is available online, and targeted outreach efforts.
These efforts have included a focus on training community partners to assist with completion of applications; availability of enrollment materials at local health departments, Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) offices and Family Resource Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs); and outreach through health care providers, community action agencies, day care centers, faith-based organizations and many others.
Approximately 250,000 mail-in applications, in both English and Spanish, have been distributed through these partnerships. In addition, CHFS has intensified efforts to re-enroll children who had previously been covered through the programs, including making policy changes to allow families an additional 30 days to return renewal information.
A report recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that in 2009, Kentucky was one of 16 states with Medicaid/CHIP participation rates of 90 percent or higher, meaning that 90 percent of Kentucky children eligible for Medicaid and KCHIP are receiving health care coverage through one of these programs.