Milestones in Our History
1998 Formation of the West Virginia Healthy Kids Coalition
The Healthy Kids Coalition (its original name) was formed in 1998 to develop statewide support for the legislative creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in West Virginia. Health care provider groups, the faith community, children’s advocates, social service providers and others came together to support expansion of health coverage for West Virginia children through CHIP. When WVCHIP was created, the Coalition promoted the program and developed strategies to reach out to eligible children and their families to enroll them in the new program and in Medicaid. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund, the Coalition developed grass roots outreach strategies in every county in West Virginia.
2000 – West Virginia Primary Care Association and West Virginia Medicaid expand outreach efforts
In 2000, the State Medicaid Agency contracted with the West Virginia Primary Care Association, one of the Coalition’s key partners, to provide money to 36 primary care clinic sites to fund outreach coordinators who would foster the mission of the Coalition. The Coalition continued to expand its membership to more local partners and state agencies.
2002 – Healthy Kids Coalition and West Virginia Council of Churches receive funding for Covering Kids and Families
In 2002, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation continued their major commitment for grassroots outreach in West Virginia communities with a new initiative called Covering Kids and Families. The Coalition continued to strengthen its partnership with the West Virginia Council of Churches, the lead agency and fiscal agent for the Robert Wood Johnson Covering Kids and Families Grant. The Coalition modified its name to embrace families.
2003 – CHIP and Medicaid enrollment continued to increase and covered about 60 percent of all West Virginia children in a 12 month period of time.
The Coalition began to analyze “churning” in Medicaid and CHIP coverage. State studies of child health insurance coverage suggested that while about 97 percent of West Virginia children had health insurance coverage over a 12 month period, only 93 percent had coverage at a given point in time.
2004 – Further Development
The Coalition participated in a national “Process Improvement Collaborative” sponsored by the Southern Institute on Children and Families and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. With support from the national collaborative, the Coalition worked with WV CHIP, a local eligibility office and the state’s computerized eligibility system to understand the “churning” in the state Medicaid and CHIP program and to improve eligibility and re-enrollment processes to create administrative efficiencies and reduce “churning.” The Coalition also worked with its partner organizations to support legislation to expand CHIP eligibility to children above 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Also in 2002, the Coalition partnered with the Parents As Teachers Program of United Way of Central West Virginia to interview Medicaid and CHIP families on their experiences in receiving health care. Results suggested that Medicaid and CHIP families were well-satisfied and had good access to care during regular office hours but were unsure about what to do after hours. Most reported that they used the Emergency Department.
2005 – The Coalition Expands
The Coalition partnered with the Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program of the United Way of Central West Virginia to pilot a project to train parents in taking care of the minor medical needs of their children. The Report, What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick: A Parent Education Pilot Study is available on this web site. The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation funded an expansion of the pilot study to Fayette and Nicholas County. Data on the results of these projects were made available in 2006.
The Coalition partnered with state government, and university and private organizations to sponsor the First Annual Children’s Health Conference in November 10-12, 2005.
With its partner organizations, the Coalition began the development of a Child Health Report Card and Healthy Schools Report Card. Final versions of these report cards were made available in 2006.
For the first time in its seven year history, the WVCHIP program began operating at its upper budget limit. To save dollars, the program will place restrictions on its pharmacy services. The increase in pharmacy costs for children for both CHIP and Medicaid is of concern to the Coalition both from a cost and quality of care perspective.
2006 – Outreach
The Coalition sponsored six community meetings to discuss findings and recommendations for child health in West Virginia. The meetings led to a Child Health Agenda and the second annual statewide forum on child health. The Coalition also provided support for a new statewide oral health project and a perinatal wellness project and actively participated in forming a new organization to address health care in West Virginia – West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
The Coalition continues to monitor progress in West Virginia’s Medicaid program and the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and sends a representative to meetings of the WVCHIP board of directors and meetings of the steering committee responsible for drafting a Comprehensive Medicaid Redesign Proposal.
In 2006, the West Virginia legislature and Governor Joe Manchin lowered the threshold for CHIP eligibility. Families with incomes less than 220 percent of the federal poverty level may pay a premium of $35 per month per child ($70 maximum) to receive CHIP coverage. In 2007, the Coalition will work to create a buy-in option for families up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
The Coalition continued to meet quarterly to plan for the annual Growing Healthy Children Conference and to coordinate policy related to child health. In 2007, Coalition partners worked together on projects to improve the status of oral health in West Virginia; to reorganize the Perinatal system, and to explore ways to integrate new thinking in child development into community health and primary care practice. Funding partners in 2007 have included the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Attorney General’s Office and the West Virginia Health Care Authority.
A state conference in October 2007 was attended by about 230 people who discussed oral health, Perinatal health and child development. The Coalition has also partnered and supported the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its child health quality initiative.
2008 – CHIP Outreach
In 2008, the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition entered into a service contract with West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program (WVCHIP) to do CHIP outreach. The 2008 Growing Healthy Children Conference focused on oral health in order to promote best child health practice, while also looking at other child health issues.
2009 – CHIP Outreach Partners
In 2009, through a service contract with West Virginia CHIP, the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition partnered with organizations around the state to do CHIP outreach and enrollment. Also, in 2009, the Coalition was part of a coalition awarded a grant to do CHIP enrollment by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
The 2009 Growing Healthy Children Conference was a joint effort with the Perinatal Partnership and West Virginia Community Voices. The main theme of the 2009 Conference focused on perinatal issues with workshops on oral health, child mental health, and other child health issues rounding out the agenda.
The Coalition in conjunction with the WVU Extension Service also conducted its first Oral Health Kit Drive. The purpose of the drive was to provide toothbrushes, tooth paste, and floss to children attending summer camps and community centers.
2010 – The Year of Conferences
While the Coalition continued CHIP outreach and enrollment efforts with Community Outreach Partners around the state, the Coalition was involved in planning and holding a variety of conferences. The Mission Gathering: Health, Energy, and Poverty Conference brought together faith-based mission projects and other individuals to look at how health, energy, and poverty issues related to one another. The Child Care Conference, Let the Children Come, brought child care providers from around the state to look at the challenges and opportunities confronting faith and community based child care centers.
The 2010 Growing Healthy Children Conference focused on Health Care Reform. The Coalition, in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, sought to bring together all sectors of society impacted by Health Care Reform, including providers, consumers, advocates, and the government for an overview of health care reform and its implications for West Virginia. Funding for the event was generously provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the WV Children’s Health Insurance Program (WVCHIP), AARP, and the WV AFL-CIO.
The year 2010 also saw the first Spring Forward for Child Health, a brochure sent out to faith communities around the state with information about oral health and WVCHIP. The mailing also included information about the 2010 Oral Health Kit Drive.
2011 – A Year in Transition
In 2011, the Coalition continued it work with Community Outreach Partners to help enroll children in WVCHIP. Our 2011 Spring Forward for Child Health reached out to faith communities with information about child mental health, WVCHIP, and the Oral Health Kit Drive. The Coalition continued to raise awareness of oral health issues and oral health benefits offered by WVCHIP and Medicaid and to raise money for an oral health fund through the first Motorcycle Rally for Oral Health. Help with the Motorcycle rally was provided by the Salvation Army, Chariot House, VISTA, Terzetto Creative, and a host of volunteers.
The West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition is also transitioning from its long-term fiscal sponsor, the West Virginia Council of Churches, to become its own independent organization. The Coalition incorporated in August of 2011, adopted bylaws, and elected a Board of Directors. We look forward to what the future may bring and will continue our focus on best child health policy and best child health practice!
2012 – Building on the Past, Looking to the Future
The WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition is a proven leader in the field of child health. Due to the work of the Coalition and dozens of partners, we have successfully advocated for, expanded, and successfully implemented CHIP in our state and piloted a half dozen other children’s health projects. We now want to build on that legacy by going back out into the community and re-energizing West Virginians to this cause.
To that end, this year we are taking three bold steps: becoming an independent 501c3 organization, expanding our focus from child health to child poverty, and venturing out into the field to foster the political will to make major strides in lifting our children out of poverty. We invite you to join us.
2013-14 – A Transition
Over the last 2 years, we have embarked on an important transition – from being a child health policy organization to becoming a statewide citizens organization comprised of, by, and for kids and families.
This has meant expanding our community organizing efforts, taking on a broader range of issues, and launching two important new initiatives: 1) the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to end child poverty and 2) the Try This! Healthy Communities Project.
After a six-month search, the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition announced it had hired Jennifer Wells as its next director. Since transitioning into the executive director role in November 2018, Wells has made strides in guiding the organization toward embracing “a more intentional ‘leader-full’ movement,” empowering and supporting local, impacted individuals and communities to step forward as leaders to enact change.
Under Wells’ leadership, WVHKFC was named as a Core Movement partner in the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium, after having been invited by both the Appalachian Community Fund and NoVo Foundation. As a core partner, WVHKFC will help develop how Black women-led, Black girl-focused programming and organizing in the Southeastern U.S. will be funded over the next seven years.