Oct 6, 2009 5:22 PM by Andy Koen
When Chris Carter lost his job in February, his family lost their primary source of income and the health insurance policy that covered their medical needs. As a father of 5, Carter and his wife Stefani knew it would be difficult to afford even routine doctors visits for his kids.
Like many parents in El Paso County, the Carter's didn't realize they qualified for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP.) In fact, it took a pie baking contest for them to learn of the coverage and to get help.
As YMCA members, Stefani had entered the pie baking contest at the Briargate branch's 4th of July celebration. While they were there, they met Jennifer Ruiz, the program administrator for the Y's Child Health Outreach Program.
With her assistance, they were able to maintain health coverage for their children and receive coverage for themselves as well.
"I can just tell you the peace that (SCHIP) gave Stefani and I, knowing that our five kids were covered and that their pediatricians actually took that health care ... has been huge for us," Chris said.
Stefani Carter says the help Ruiz's provided with the application process made getting coverage much easier and faster. They were able to get the children covered within four days.
"It was a blessing that it went so quickly," she said. "Our children don't get sick very often, but they're all very adventurous. So, it doesn't have to be sick, they can just bang into something."
Ruiz says, the Carter's like, many family in Colorado Springs didn't realize that the SCHIP assistance is available. In fact, El Paso County has the highest percentage of children who are eligible yet not enrolled in SCHIP in the state. The YMCA was given money in January to begin their outreach program as a means for increasing that awareness.
"They realized that there was a vast need out there in El Paso County for kids to get health care coverage and there was a need for places that could reach kids," Ruiz said.
So far, the YMCA has helped to get 70 children in El Paso County covered under SCHIP through their outreach program. Ruiz says the greatest demand for the program has come from families at the Briargate and Garden Ranch locations.
"Traditionally, in these areas of town, people are used to getting healthcare from their employer or getting services through more traditional means."
The Child Health Outreach Program isn't limited to YMCA members. Anyone in need of help is encouraged to call 329-7238 or click here to apply.