|Texas School Business magazine has announced that La Porte ISD’s student health care voucher program is one of 12 initiatives to be honored in the magazine’s fourth annual Bragging Rights special issue. Bragging Rights recognizes school districts that have implemented programs that are bettering the lives of students, schools and communities. The special issue, which accepts nominations and selects 12 stories to highlight, was distributed to more than 8,000 readers with a vested interest in Texas public education. With pass-along readership, this annual issue will reach at least 25,000 readers.
“La Porte ISD’s student health care voucher program provides free medical care to uninsured students who are ill or injured,” explained April Fox, LPISD director of student support services. “Through this program, students are seen by participating physicians in our community.”
The program, a project of the LPISD School Health Advisory Council, was started with a $1,000 grant from The Children’s Defense Fund and a $2,000 grant from LyondellBasell in late 2007. In 2010, the La Porte Lions Club joined in the effort to provide ongoing support for the program.
Fox explained that the district works with several area physicians and optometrists who have agreed to see students at a discounted rate. When a school nurse refers a child with a medical need but no insurance, she gives the parent a voucher and a list of participating physicians. The parent then schedules an appointment to meet with a Community Youth Services representative to complete an application for CHIP or Medicaid.
When the student is seen by a doctor, the parent gives him or her the voucher in lieu of payment, and the doctor’s office files it with the district for reimbursement. Gift cards for purchasing medication are also made available to the families.
Laura Lynch, LPISD lead nurse, explained that 45 students received free medical care and financial assistance with medication during the 2009-2010 school year. In addition, families that qualify are obtaining state-assisted medical insurance because of the help they receive in accessing and completing the often complex applications, she said.
“School nurses no longer have to send ill or injured students home with no hope of getting medical care,” Lynch said. “Students in need receive timely, free medical attention, allowing them to return to school sooner than they would have been able to otherwise.”
Lloyd W. Graham, LPISD superintendent of schools, noted that community support has been instrumental to the program’s success. The program, which issued its first vouchers shortly before Graham joined the district in 2008, demonstrates how a caring public responds to the needs of its young people.
“We are fortunate to be a part of a community that cares so much about the health and well-being of its children,” Graham said. “We are very grateful to the physicians and optometrists who participate in the program as well as those who have provided the financial backing to make it possible. When children don’t feel well or have problems with their vision, their ability to learn is compromised. The school health care voucher is a prime example of how our community and the school district work together to ensure that our students have the best opportunities for a quality education.”
This is the fourth year of the Bragging Rights publication, and LPISD’s second time to be featured in the issue. The LPISD global studies program, sponsored by the La Porte Education Foundation, was showcased in the 2008 magazine.
“We were impressed by La Porte ISD’s commitment to its uninsured student population,” said Texas School Business Editor Katie Ford. “This is a model program, and we’re proud to highlight it as an example of excellence in Texas public education.”
For 56 years, Texas School Business has served as the independent voice for public education in Texas. The magazine, which is produced in Austin and distributed 10 times a year, is read by educators and school administrators across Texas. To read La Porte ISD’s story online, visit www.texasschoolbusiness.com.