My service year so far has been really enlightening. Coming into this program, I was not sure what to expect. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to starting, and excited to see what the year had in store for me! I am currently serving as a Benefits Outreach Coordinator for the Chciago Public Schools (CPS) thruogh the Children's and Family Benefits Unit (CFBU).
As a Benefits Outreach Coordinator, I work primarily with low-income families to assist them with health insurance (Medicaid and All Kids Insurance) and Supplementale Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment. Through my service with CPS I have come to understand the significance of these benefits to CPS families.
Lack of health insurance coverage and proper nutrition are some of the many factors that affect education quality. By providing health insurance and SNAP enrollment assistance, CFBU is essentially reducing these factors and limiting the barriers to educational excellence among CPS kids. An important aspect of my service is specifically reaching out to low-income families, informing them about our servicies, and letting them know how they can benefit from our work. One thing that strikes me is the amount of people eligible for these services, who are not aware that they are available. This is one of the reasons why outreach is such a large component of my service.
We currently have 18 enrollment sites across CPS and we are looking to expand to a total of 32 schools by December 31st. During a conversation with my supervisor Sergio Obregon, he mentioned that he wants our department to improve in building solid relationships with schools, most importantly our target schools which haev the lowest rate of health insurance enrollment. I hope that through my service this year I will be able to assist in building these relationships and ultimately help increase health insurance coverage for CPS kids.
This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2017-18 member Simi Odusanya.
Simi is a Benefits Outreach Coordinator at Chicago Public Schools, Office of Student Health and Wellness.