National, state, and local research, policy and advocacy to improve the lives of kids

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Foster Youth Stories - Oscar

Oscar Sanchez and his three siblings entered foster care after their single mother left home to run an errand and never returned. Sanchez, who is now working and going to college in San Diego, struggled with the complicated Medi-Cal registration process. An avid cyclist, he broke his clavicle and several ribs after hitting a pothole while training for a race. In the emergency room he learned that he had registered incorrectly, so all he could get was a sling and some pain killers to avoid paying huge costs out of pocket.

Sanchez didn’t know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now requires states to provide youth who age out of foster care with health coverage until the age of 26. This extension of coverage to age 26 fills a critical need for former foster youth who don’t have the same option as their peers to stay on a parent’s insurance plan.

This important ACA provision took effect on January 1, 2014, but former foster youth and county agencies are still learning how to take advantage of this exciting new opportunity for health coverage. That’s why Children Now launched our CoveredTil26 campaign, to reach out to young adults and the agencies that serve them to educate them about former foster youths’ coverage eligibility.

Oscar contacted CoveredTil26 after hearing about it from a local community agency and Children Now staff helped him fix his health care coverage. Thanks to the help provided by CoveredTil26 staff, Oscar has been able to see specialists for his injuries. And he knows when his younger siblings come of age, CoveredTil26 will be there for them, too.

Each year, thousands of youth like Oscar age out of foster care in California. These vulnerable young people too often lack the support they need to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood.

To date, our CoveredTil26 campaign has connected over 8,000 current and former foster youth to information and resources about extended Medi-Cal coverage and how to enroll in or retain their coverage.

Children Now is working to improve children’s health and overall well-being across California. You can support our ongoing efforts on behalf of young people like Oscar, and ensure our state’s children and youth have the chance to grow up healthy and thrive.