Berkeley Leaders Support Children’s Health Initiative By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday April 05, 2005

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Michele Lawrence joined religious and health leaders and education and children’s activists at a downtown press conference Monday to announce support for a statewide California for Healthy Kids (CHK) campaign. 

CHK is a collaboration of the 100% Campaign (Children’s Now, Children’s Defense Fund, and The Children’s Partnership) and the Pacific Institute for Community Organization California Project. Legislation supporting the group’s goals were introduced in the state legislature this year by State Senator Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk) and State Assemblymember Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) under the respective numbers SB437 and AB772. 

At the time she introduced the legislation, Chan called it an “innovative, practical solution to save taxpayer dollars and help insure our children.” 

The campaign seeks to extend health care coverage to children of working class families who are not covered through their employers, and for low-income children who are eligible for state coverage but who have been unable to receive it for bureaucratic reasons. 

“With the support of statewide efforts like Californians for Healthy Kids and our local community agencies, we can provide access to health insurance for every Berkeley child,” Bates said. 

Berkeley Unified representatives say they are seeking federal funds currently available for health insurance outreach, as well as looking to take advantage of recent state legislation making it easier for school districts to enroll students in public health insurance programs.