Boost for county child, teen checkup program

An infusion of state dollars will enable Anoka County to expand its outreach efforts for the child and teen checkup program.

The child and teen checkup program is operated by the Minnesota Department for Human Services (DHS) for children and teens ages birth up to 21 who are eligible under the Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care programs.

Anoka County has an administrative contract with DHS, by which county community health outreach workers seek out eligible families and inform them of the benefits of prevention, health services and resources, benefits of Medicaid and Minnesota Care program services and assist families in using those resources effectively and efficiently, according to Laurel Hoff, county director of community health and environmental services.

The goals of the outreach activities are to have each eligible child’s health needs assessed through initial and periodic examinations and evaluations, assuring that any health problems are diagnosed and treated early before they become more complex and their treatment becomes more costly, Hoff said.

These include screenings for such things as vision and hearing, she said.

“The focus of the program is prevention and encouraging children and teens to have checkups on a regular basis,” Hoff said.

“It also supports family self-sufficiency and independence and helps to support the state of Minnesota in reaching the federally mandated goal of an 80 percent participation rate.”

Anoka County’s 2013 child and teen checkup population has been pegged at 28,260 by DHS, a 20 percent increase in eligible population since 2010, according to information provided to the Anoka County Board by Hoff.

“The numbers have increased every year consistently for the past five years,” Hoff said in an interview.

And with that population increase has come a 33 percent increase in outreach activities/events attended by county outreach workers which include evenings and weekend community events, she said.

Outreach workers regularly go to the county’s WIC (Women and Infant Children) clinics as well as school and community events where families eligible for the child and teen checkup program are likely to attend, according to Hoff.

“We try to go where the population might be,” Hoff said.

For 2013, the county will receive an additional $126,193 in its allocation from DHS, increasing from $622,697 to $748,890.

A portion of those dollars will enable the county to hire another full-time (FTE) community health outreach worker.

The position, which is contingent on continued funding from DHS, was approved by the Anoka County Board at its meeting Feb. 12.

The new outreach worker will allow the county to reduce its staffing ratio, which is now well above the recommended DHS level of one worker per 2,000-2,500 eligible participants.

Currently, the county staffing ratio is one staff person per 4,700 eligible participants; with the new position that ratio will fall to 3,655 per FTE, according to Hoff in the information she provided to the county board.

The outreach worker through outreach activities and telephone calls will:

• Assist families in navigating the health and human services system.

• Advocate for individual, family and community needs.

• Promote wellness, early diagnosis and treatment.

• Provide culturally appropriate health information to individuals, families, community partners and service providers.

There is an identified need for targeted outreach in coordination with community-based organizations serving ethnically diverse populations of Anoka County, such as Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA), as well as for outreach to targeted community connections such as libraries, community fairs and schools events, Hoff told the county board.

According to Hoff, the county has received DHS administrative funding for the child and teen checkup program since 1992 and it is expected that it will get equal or greater funding in the years to come.