HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM's School of Social Work received a $910,000 grant focusing on uninsured children in the Pine Belt, according to a USM press release.
With over 200 eligible applicants, the school is one of 28 recipients nationwide to receive the funding.
The Connecting Kids to Coverage grant was provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and supports the need to enroll children who do not have health coverage.
"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 in the press release. "Specialists will both recruit and train agency personnel who will help individuals enroll and bring services to community agencies."
The School of Social Work will target children and families who are uninsured in State Public Health District 8. This includes Covington, Forrest, Greene, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Perry and Wayne counties.
Richard said they will target these areas because of rural isolation, health disparities and lack of enrollment support.
According to the Urban Institute, 91 percent of eligible children are now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, which is about a 10 percent increase since 2008.
"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 in the press release. "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 University of Southern Mississippi's College of Health, click here.