Linda Calabrese, a HCFANY Volunteer, talks to a Job Fair Attendee
Guest post: Liza Lederer-Plaskett, Community Organizer for Raising Women’s Voices – NY
As the second Affordable Care Act enrollment period came to an end, Health Care For All New York outreach staffers and volunteers found ourselves racing to the finish, trying to reach as many uninsured women, LGBT people and people of color as possible. Raising Women’s Voices-NY, which was coordinating HCFANY’s volunteer outreach program, found that one of the most successful strategies during this open enrollment period was tabling at job fairs sponsored by cosmetic trade schools. Through these events, we were able to reach a very vulnerable group of uninsured individuals – single mothers.
Single mothers face significant struggles in day-to-day life, including a disproportionately high rate of being uninsured. This often means their children go uninsured, as well. Fortunately, through outreach at job fairs put on by large schools, such as the Empire Beauty School and Barbizon Beauty School, RWV-NY has been able to connect with these women and help them and their children get covered. The fairs are attended by women who have recently graduated from cosmetic trade schools and are now seeking employment at salons. Many of these women do not now have health insurance, and they may not receive it from employment at hair salons.
The fairs are often held at local hair salons, which offer tabling space to other salons looking for new hairdressers. RWV-NY was introduced to these events by a HCFANY outreach volunteer, Linda Calabrese, who had helped her hairdresser and her child get enrolled in a private plan and Child Health Plus through the NY State of Health marketplace. Her hairdresser was so grateful to Linda for help in connecting with a navigator that she asked if Linda would like to bring HCFANY to a job fair later that week. Together, Linda and community organizer Liza Lederer tabled at the job fair in Jackson Heights, Queens, and reached 24 uninsured women, most of them self-identified single mothers.
To date, RWV-NY has attended three Beauty Schools Job Fairs, and has reached 84 women, many of whom are single parents who previously did not understand how to get help enrolling through NY State of Health. With Medicaid and Child Health Plus enrollment ongoing, RWV-NY is hopeful that many more women will be able to get covered through additional tabling at these fairs.