About Us

The multiple challenges public education faces — fiscally, economically, politically and socially — are complex. But there are simple solutions we can leverage right now to transform learning. One of them is making sure that eligible children have health insurance.

The Children’s Defense Fund acknowledges the vision of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation who more than a decade ago imagined a time when schools informing parents about health insurance options for their children would become routine policy and procedure. Their early support of CDF’s work with school districts in Texas laid the groundwork for the model we offer with AASA today.

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of school system leaders with a long history of working for the well-being of children in public schools.

CDF and AASA have long recognized the critical importance of access to high-quality health care to student achievement. Both are strong advocates of Medicaid for meeting children’s health care needs and for enrolling low-income children in Medicaid and later the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that began in 1997. Realizing the critical role of schools in the lives of children and families and the importance of superintendent leadership for any school policy, program or practice to be successful and sustained, the two organizations set out in 2011 to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP in school districts in several states with some of the largest numbers of uninsured children.

CDF and AASA center their policy and program investments on systemic change, capacity building, and sustainability of effort and dissemination that encourages replication. Both are headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and each has a state presence. CDF offices in six states cover 34.2 percent of all children, 36.7 percent of all poor children, and 31.2 percent of all uninsured children in America. AASA represents nearly 13,000 educational leaders and has 49 chartered state affiliates. Together our state offices leverage policy advocacy, support and actions to help local school superintendents and staff achieve common goals related to enrolling children in health insurance. State offices reinforce the project’s goals as well as the critical task of ensuring implementation and sustainability.

CDF and AASA since 2011 have launched child health insurance initiatives in 15 school districts large and small, urban and rural in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. Between 2011 and 2016, this work has been supported by: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; United Healthcare Foundation; CVS Caremark Charitable Trust; The California Endowment; and The Atlantic Philanthropies. CDF and AASA looked to school districts to help bring essential health insurance to more children. This toolkit, supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies, contains lessons learned from districts in each of these states, with a major focus on the past three years in four school districts in California and three school districts in Texas.

This toolkit was supported by grant number 21901 from The Atlantic Philanthropies. The Atlantic Philanthropies, a limited lifetime foundation, is dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The contents of this toolkit are solely the responsibility of its authors, The Children’s Defense Fund and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.