WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY(WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania is home to a troubling statistic. The keystone state has the 8th largest population of uninsured children in the country. It’s why a regional, educational program was announced today to help get kids the health insurance they need.

Hundreds and hundreds of kids in Luzerne County, many of them in elementary school, lack child healthcare coverage that they otherwise could have through a pair of programs. It’s why local child health insurance advocates are joining forces for a campaign called ‘Get Kids Covered’.

Bill Jones says, “Every child in our community should have health (insurance) coverage.”

Yet, nearly three percent of children in Luzerne County don’t according to research cited by United Way of Wyoming Valley President and CEO Bill Jones.

“While it seems like a small percentage, 2.7%, still 1,800 children aren’t insured and that’s a concern,” explained Jones.

So concerning that a collaborative educational effort called ‘Get Kids Covered’ is underway. United Way of Wyoming Valley is teaming up with two other non-profits, Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Maternal and Family Health Services, to deliver an important message.

That low-cost and even free child healthcare coverage is available through Pennsylvania Medicare and CHIP which stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program. Getting enrollment information is as easy as calling Pennsylvania 211 Northeast.

“All you have to remember are three little numbers and you’re connected right to one of the caseworkers in our offices and they can try and help you out any way they can,” stated Tom Foley, Director, PA 211 Northeast.

Health insurance coverage is as important as ever as kids return to school during the pandemic.

“If they are insured and do get sick or do have needs, families can help them stay healthier and it’s not going to cost them what they think it is,” said Jones.

“We know that kids who do have insurance persist in school, have better outcomes and if they’re not getting those well visits and checkups and don’t have insurance then, unfortunately, they’re going to be behind their peers,” explained Maria Montoro Edwards Ph.D., President and CEO of Maternal and Family Health Services

Calling 211 isn’t the only way to get that child enrollment information. You can contact Pennsylvania 211 North Eastern by texting INSUREKIDSNOW to 211-211, or by logging onto the Insure Kids website.