Never in the 23 years that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has existed, have we faced a Back-to-School enrollment season like the one we face this year. Schools may or may not allow students on site to enroll. Schools may or may not open their physical buildings for classes. And if kids stay home for learning and don’t participate in extracurricular activities, will annual health physicals and immunizations be required? The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend all aspects of our lives, and enrolling kids in health coverage like Medicaid and CHIP are in the same quagmire.

Over the years, local and state “Covering Kids” campaigns have used Back-to-School as a key point in time to conduct outreach and enrollment efforts, often partnering with local schools, childcare centers, medical providers, local businesses, and TV and radio stations. Groups have sponsored free backpack giveaways, outdoor concerts, well-child appointment fairs, booths at state fairs, and many other creative events to reach eligible but unenrolled kids. This year, we don’t expect to see any of those events.

So, what do we do, in a time when kids need coverage more than ever? And in a year when nearly a million kids lost coverage in Medicaid and CHIP, with Latino kids losing coverage at the highest rate?  Thankfully, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a plan for states, local groups and public health offices. Their “Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign” includes an animated video in English and Spanish, a print-ready palm card, posters, and direct-mail insert in English and Spanish. They’ve also made a digital button that can be added to websites to easily connect families with health insurance information in their state. Find the complete library of customizable materials here.

When so much else is going wrong, it’s refreshing to see something being done right.