Oakland Schools Help Parents Sign Up for Covered California

Gabino Pablo gets help with Covered Calfiornia enrollment as the deadline approaches. (Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

Antonia Briones (left), an Alameda County Social Services Agency eligibility technician, helps Gabino Pablo (right) with Covered California enrollment as the deadline approaches. (Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

The robocall went out this week to every parent of an Oakland public school student:

“Hello! This is the Oakland Unified School District calling to remind you that March 31st is the deadline for enrolling in health insurance … The OUSD Central Family Resource Center is here to help.”

The day after that call went out the Central Family Resource Center, housed in a small portable building. was swamped. Over a 100 calls came in and 30 families dropped by.

“We’re just getting flooded with calls and people dropping in asking for appointments so we’re all hands on deck trying to respond to the demand,” said Eliza Schiffrin, the center’s program coordinator.

Oakland parent Gabino Pablo came in to sign up for coverage for himself, and Medi-Cal for his 5 week old daughter. He said he knew the deadline was looming, but has no internet access at home.

“I don’t speak much English. I am Mayan, my second language is Spanish and it’s hard,” said Pablo. “A lot of people need help [signing up]. When I go home from here, I am going to tell people I know and send them over here.”

Pablo estimates that only 1 in 10 of the adults in his immediate community are signed up for health insurance.

Schiffrin says the center has taken their staff on the road, too, visiting individual schools to help people sign up.

Continue reading

In California, School Anti-Bullying Efforts Falling Short

The California state auditor faulted both local entities and the state's oversight (Photo: Getty Images)

A new report from the California state auditor faulted both local entities and the state’s oversight in anti-bullying programs. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource Today

Just as kids are heading back to classrooms, a new state audit has found that most schools do not track whether their anti-bullying programs have made campuses any safer and that schools are inconsistent in how they record and resolve bullying incidents.

The California Department of Education has been insufficient in both oversight and guidance, the audit said. It further noted that the department went four years without noticing that it was not monitoring schools to ensure they were addressing student complaints, as required by law. At the same time, funding has been cut for statewide surveys on student safety, making it more difficult to determine students’ experiences with bullying.

“The audit shows that passing laws isn’t enough. We need to implement them and ensure accountability at the district, county and statewide levels.”
On the plus side, the audit did find that the vast majority of California schools have anti-bullying programs in place and have provided staff training in how to prevent bullying, discrimination, harassment and intimidation.

Still, one advocate said the audit confirms that much remains to be done to reduce the high levels of bullying in California schools.

“The audit shows that passing laws isn’t enough –- we need to implement them and ensure accountability at the district, county and statewide levels,” said Jesse Melgar, with Equality California, a San Francisco-based advocacy group. “Now, California schools and the Department of Education have an opportunity to use the audit’s findings to review, update and enhance their policies to better protect our youth and ensure student success.” Continue reading