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Most homeless children are eligible for Medicaid. Virtually all uninsured homeless children in Tennessee are eligible for TennCare, the state’s Medicaid managed care program. Nevertheless, a number of obstacles prevent or delay their enrollment in TennCare and impede the access of enrolled children to covered health services. Homeless children are at heightened risk for asthma, infectious and other diseases, and for physical and emotional abuse which, without appropriate care, may retard normal growth and development.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council initiated the TennCare Shelter Enrollment Project in 1998 to improve the health of homeless children by increasing their access to health coverage and primary care. The project seeks to accomplish these goals by educating emergency shelter providers and the families they serve about TennCare, and by working with a variety of stakeholders in communities across the State to identify and reduce access barriers for homeless children.

This outreach demonstration project is supported by a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development Emergency Shelter Grant Program, administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, and matched by the Bureau of TennCare, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. Now in its seventh year, the TennCare Shelter Enrollment Project has involved over 48 emergency shelters statewide in 28 counties, serving over 14,000 homeless children since July 1998. (This number does not represent all Tennessee children who were homeless during that period.) (NHCHC)
Nashville, TN
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services