This post is part of a two-part blog series on unaccompanied minors in New York. View the first post here. Last month, the Children’s Defense Fund – New York and the Health Care for All NY coalition presented two webinars on unaccompanied minors and access to health services. The full recordings and materials for Unaccompanied Minors and Health Care Access and Unaccompanied Minors and Behavioral Health Services are available at the HCFANY website.
Guest Post: Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, Director of Health Policy,
Children’s Defense Fund – NY
The United States is making steady progress in reducing the number of uninsured Hispanic children, even as the total population of Hispanic children grows, according to a report recently released by Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Since 2009, the number of Hispanic children who are uninsured has dropped by more than half a million, while the total number of Hispanic children grew by more than a million. New York is one of three states nationally that has rates of uninsured Hispanic children that are well below the national average. While this is a huge accomplishment, it is important to consider how the recent surge in unaccompanied children nationally, and in New York State, might impact uninsurance rates. These children will need to be connected to a means for health insurance coverage to avoid an uptick in the uninsurance rate for Hispanics nationally and in New York State, specifically.
In response to the latest surge of unaccompanied children who have arrived in New York State, mainly populating the downstate region, the New York City Council, in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust, has secured resources for legal services to represent these children at immigration and deportation proceedings. Additionally, the Council and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs have also begun to organize an accessible pathway to social service supports for these children/youth on-site at the federal immigration court in New York City. Most concretely, Mayor de Blasio’s administration has created a resource directory for the unaccompanied minor population so that front-line workers can direct children and families to appropriate support services.
New York State reflects a very diverse demographic. It can be daunting for newly immigrated families to become acculturated to Americanized social service systems that offer health care, education, and other supports. For children who arrive unaccompanied, the experience can be all the more intimidating.
It is essential that city and state officials employ social service policies that are user-friendly by children and families, especially new immigrants. In New York City and State, we have worked to gain some successes in this area. Moving ahead, we must continue to keep pace with the rising demand of Hispanic and other ethnicities entering our local communities.