Grant Partner InFocus: Communities in Schools of Greater Central Texas
Nestor is a 5th grader at Southwest Elementary School in Belton. Like many students, Nestor was fighting a learning battle that had nothing to do with this schoolwork. During class, he struggled just to see the front of the classroom. But when it came to getting medical help for his vision issues, Nestor and his family were on the outside looking in.
Nestor's family couldn't afford to take him to the doctor and didn't know where else to turn. But thanks to Communities In Schools (CIS) of Greater Central Texas, Inc. Nestor's parents were introduced to Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits. Armed with health insurance, Nestor was now finally able to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. It turns out, Nestor had severe vision issues and needed specialized care just to save his vision.
"Nestor needed help, but his parents didn't know how the system worked or how to even start," said Kim Wilkes, a program supervisor at CIS. "We were able to help him and his family become registered for benefits that connected them to an effective system of health with access to affordable medical care."
The impact that connection has had on Norton's health, education and future is immeasurable. Norton is just one of hundreds of low-income, at-risk students CIS helps in elementary, middle and high schools across Central Texas.
"We only see the needs going up," said Michael Dewees, the organization's executive director. "So many families are left out and don't know what to do to get help."
Kim Wilkes (left) and Michael Dewees (center) from Communities In Schools of Greater Central Texas, Inc. present EHF staff members (l to r) Jennifer Herrera, Brittany Kusay, Jem Marshall and Shirly Thomas with hand prints of some of the children helped by its program.
EHF's $140,010 grant in 2016 provides funding for CIS to provide intensive case management for vulnerable students and then connect them to health, dental and mental health services.
"Nestor's story shows one way EHF is working with partners across Texas to improve the health system, especially for those with the least resources," said Elena Marks, EHF's president and CEO. "Connecting these families to a system of health with high-quality, affordable medical care is an important part of a larger process in helping them get and stay healthy."
Click here to learn more about CIS of Greater Central Texas
Click here to see more of EHF's grant partners working across 57 Texas counties.