School of Social Work receiving grant focusing on uninsured children

School of Social Work receiving grant focusing on uninsured children

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.

The School of Social Work at The University of Southern Mississippi has secured a $910,000 Connecting Kids to Coverage grant from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to support initiatives needed to enroll eligible children who do not have health coverage. Out of about 200 eligible applicants, the school is one of the 38 recipients nationwide to receive funding.

The grant will replicate and expand the success of the Southern Miss School of Social Work and city of Hattiesburg's Educate, Enroll, Empower (E3) Health Initiative, a year-round Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and recertification project.

"A team of outreach and enrollment specialists will be created to provide enrollment services, education, and enrollment training." said Laura Richard, assistant professor of social work and project director. "Specialists will both recruit and train agency personnel who will help individuals enroll and bring services to community agencies."

Social work graduate students will also be trained on the enrollment process. While completing their internship at state agencies, students will help train staff and facilitate community-based outreach.

The School of Social Work team will target uninsured children and families in State Public Health District 8, which includes the counties Covington, Forrest, Greene, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Perry and Wayne. "We will target this area due to the rural isolation, health disparities and lack of enrollment support," Richard said.

Data from fiscal year 2015 reports 534,988 children are enrolled in either CHIP or Medicaid in Mississippi. Additionally, 91 percent of eligible children are now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, an increase of nearly 10 percent since 2008, according to the Urban Institute.

"We hope to reduce the estimated 16,000 eligible, but unenrolled individuals in District 8 by 15 percent, or approximately 700 adults and 1,730 children," Richard said. "We will also aim to successfully retain at least a 50 percent recertification of enrolled individuals through the efforts of the project in year two."

For more information about the School of Social Work in the Southern Miss College of Health, visit