Cities Expanding Children's Access to Health Care

With a $3.25 million grant provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies through its national KidsWell Initiative, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families has launched a new, three-year project to help municipal leaders increase children's access to health insurance coverage. Competitively selected cities will have the opportunity to receive pass-through funding and technical assistance as they lead local efforts to boost children's enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

For more than a decade, mayors, city councilmembers and other municipal officials have played critical roles in developing and accelerating the momentum of local outreach and enrollment campaigns.  NLC's Cities Expanding Children's Access to Health Care initiative will significantly strengthen the capacity of city leaders and other key local partners to develop data-driven action plans for maximizing children's participation in vital public health insurance programs.

Leadership Academies

As part of this initiative, cities are invited to apply for participation in one of two leadership academies focused on expanding access to health insurance coverage for children and families.  These one-and-a-half-day trainings will help up to 20 city teams learn new ideas and approaches for increasing enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Click here to download the leadership academy application.  Please notify Dawn Schluckebier ( if your city intends to apply.

NLC will host one leadership academy in late July for 10 teams from the Western half of the country, while the other leadership academy will be held in mid-September for 10 teams from the Eastern half of the country.  Locations will be announced in the coming weeks.  NLC will cover travel costs for three participants from each selected city.  Applications are due no later than April 22, and NLC will announce selected cities by May 20

The leadership academies will provide participants with the opportunity to learn effective outreach and enrollment strategies from national experts and from other cities that have taken steps to increase children's access to health insurance.  Given the importance of cross-sector partnerships in conducting outreach and boosting program enrollment, applying cities are encouraged to form three-person teams of local elected officials, senior municipal staff, and other key stakeholders, including but not limited to county health departments, other health care providers and social service agencies, schools, United Ways, businesses, community organizations, and health advocacy groups, to attend the leadership academies. 

NLC will select cities through a competitive process.  Selection criteria will include evidence of high-level municipal leadership and commitment to increasing the number of children enrolled in health insurance programs, collaboration among city and community agencies, and a clear indication on how the leadership academy can bolster local efforts and help applicants overcome identified challenges.  Preference will be given to NLC member cities.

Grants and Assistance

Cities selected to participate in a leadership academy will also be eligible to apply for further technical assistance and pass-through grants.  Through a competitive process, NLC will select and assist 8-10 cities in developing results-based plans for increasing participation in Medicaid and CHIP among eligible, uninsured children and families.  A subset of these cities will be selected for the project's implementation phase, which will include cross-site meetings of city teams, public campaign launch events, and ongoing site-level assistance. 

Cities and Health Insurance Coverage

Cities have a major stake in the availability of health care and insurance coverage to children.  When children lack access to preventive care, illnesses can become more serious and expensive to treat over time.  Unaddressed chronic health conditions can reduce school attendance and academic achievement at a time when education is becoming increasingly important to local economic development.  In addition, costly medical interventions can easily plunge families into financial crisis if they do not have insurance

Moreover, cities often play central roles within the health care system as first responders, employers, and safety net providers and funders.  When families miss out on key state and federal benefits, cities ultimately absorb a portion of the increased cost burden resulting from lack of insurance coverage.

In recent years, municipal leaders in many cities have spearheaded or supported community-wide outreach campaigns to help low- and moderate-income residents obtain health care coverage.  Some of these campaigns have also sought to expand access to tax credits, nutrition programs, child care subsidies and other key federal and state benefits as part of broader efforts to promote family economic success.

In their efforts to increase health insurance coverage, cities have worked closely with other key organizations, including county health departments, other health care providers and social service agencies, schools, United Ways, businesses, and community organizations.  The Cities Expanding Children's Access to Health Care initiative will engage selected cities in building stronger local partnerships and developing comprehensive strategies to enroll more children in health insurance coverage.  NLC will also connect city leaders to existing initiatives, including those developed by recipients of federal CHIPRA outreach grants, and help local officials draw upon the expertise of partners in The Atlantic Philanthropies' national KidsWell Campaign.