Nutrition Services Division General Information Sheet
Programs: National School Lunch Program, Public School Districts, County Superintendents of Schools
Date: November 2005
Subject: Express Enrollment-Implementing New Legislation Regarding the Optional Sharing of National School Lunch Program Meal Applications for Medi-Cal Purposes
|Reference: Senate Bill 1196, Chapter 729, Statutes of 2004; Management Bulletin 03-115, August 2003; Assembly Bill 59, Chapter 894, Statutes of 2001; California Education Code sections 49557, 49558|
Food Service Directors
District Child Development Center Directors
School Health Administrators
This notice provides information regarding the implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 1196, which amended California Education Code (EC) Section 49557.2, effective July 1, 2005. SB 1196 makes changes to the Express Enrollment (EE) program, created by Assembly Bill 59, effective July 1, 2003. (See Management Bulletin 03-115 at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/mb03115.asp for EE implementation instructions.)
The information in this notice pertains only to school districts choosing to implement EE.
The EE program permits school districts to participate in a process allowing families to apply for Medi-Cal benefits for their children using the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) application. Children whose families provide optional information and parental consent on the NSLP application and are approved for free meals may be determined eligible for temporary Medi-Cal benefits by the school district. The district forwards the NSLP application to the county Medi-Cal office for a final eligibility determination for ongoing Medi-Cal coverage.
SB 1196 Summary
Beginning July 1, 2005, SB 1196 requires those districts choosing to implement EE to include linkages to Healthy Families and available county and locally sponsored health insurance programs, such as Healthy Kids. It also clarifies school district EE administrative procedures.
SB 1196 Implementation Guidance
Following is a summary of SB amendments to EC Section 49557.2, and the actions school districts choosing to participate in EE must take to implement them. (More detailed instructions for implementing EE are available on The Children's Partnership Express Lane Eligibility Web site at http://www.childrenspartnership.org/our-work/family-friendly-enrollment/express-lane-eligibility.)
- EC 49557.2(c) requires that counties (Medi-Cal offices) forward the EE application to the Healthy Families or county or locally sponsored health insurance programs if the child is determined to be ineligible for no-cost full-scope Medi-Cal, and the parent/guardian has provided consent.
- School districts must make changes to the modified NSLP application to obtain parental consent to share the application with Healthy Families and county- or locally sponsored health insurance programs.
The California Department of Education (CDE) and the Department of Health Services (DHS) have developed an NSLP application prototype for EE. This prototype application contains all the required elements for EE, including new consent language to share the application with Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and county or locally sponsored programs, such as Healthy Kids (if available).
A school district that chooses not to use the state-approved prototype application must submit its application to the CDE and DHS for prior approval. To do so, simultaneously submit applications by electronic mail to:
California Department of Education
Nutrition Services Division
Department of Health Services
Guadalupe (Lu) Sanchez
Medi-Cal Eligibility Branch
Phone: (916) 552-9474
Fax: (916) 552-9524
School districts choosing to implement EE must include specific EE program and confidentiality information in the standard NSLP Letter to Household (LTH) that accompanies the application. The CDE prototype LTH includes the required language.
School districts and counties must determine the availability of county or locally sponsored health insurance programs.
If a county or locally sponsored program exists in the county of the participating district and if that local program is participating in EE, the NSLP application and LTH must include references to the county/local program. School districts and counties must work with the available local program to decide if and how the county Medi-Cal office will forward applications to the local program. School districts that are not in counties where a local program exists or the local program is not participating in EE should not include references to any county/local program in their EE school lunch materials.
- EC 49557.2(d) requires school districts to notify families who have provided consent on the NSLP application that, because their child is not eligible for free meals, he or she is not eligible for EE. The district's notice must also inform families of health coverage programs for which their child may be eligible.
- School districts may designate non-food services staff to notify families who provided consent on the NSLP application that their children are not eligible for EE because they did not qualify for free meals. Sample notifications for school districts to use and/or adapt to implement this provision are available.
- EC 49557.2(b)(1) allows school districts to specify staff who can view the school lunch applications with parental consent for the purposes of administering the EE program.
- District EE staff can only utilize information from school lunch applications for purposes of administering the EE program, including notifying families of their child's eligibility/ineligibility for EE.
- EC 49557.2(a)(3) permits schools to add a separate parental consent to allow Medi-Cal offices to inform the school of the names and contact information of children who are in jeopardy of losing their Medi-Cal benefits because the child's parent/guardian has not provided Medi-Cal with all the information needed.
- School districts may choose whether to implement this option. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the district and the county must specify if and how this provision will be implemented. Refer toManagement Bulletin 03-115 at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/mb03115.asp for more information about the required MOU.
- If a district implements this option and receives information for children whose family did not complete the required Medi-Cal follow-up form, the district must (1) Permit only designated district EE staff to receive this information from the county; (2) use the information only to assist families in completing the EE process; (3) not require families to accept assistance; and (4) limit the number of contacts to nonresponsive families to that agreed upon by the school district and the county, as described in the MOU.
- EC 49557.2(b)(2) allows districts that have knowledge of a child's active Medi-Cal or Healthy Families case not to process the applications of these children for EE. Instead, districts are to inform the family of their child's active status and forward the application to the county for processing.
- District EE staff must rely on official data obtained from the state or county and derived from the Medi-Cal Eligibility Data System (MEDS) or other relevant, current databases. In addition, because of confidentiality rules, a school district can only obtain these data from the state or county if it has entered into an MOU and is using the data for EE administrative purposes.
School districts may also determine active status through direct communication with the child's parent or guardian if EE staff contacts a child's parent/guardian to obtain missing information on the NSLP application. A school district cannot receive this information secondhand or from a family member other than the child's parent or guardian.
- School districts must develop a method for identifying these applications so that counties can easily identify them as applications for children already enrolled in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. Counties must still process these applications, but they may do so in a longer time frame than the other EE applications. The MOU should identify how the applications will be tagged.
- School districts must notify families that, because their child is already enrolled in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, they are not eligible for EE. This notification must include the phone number of the county for the family to call with questions about their child's eligibility status. A sample notice that schools may use or adapt is available.
If you have any questions about EE, please contact Naaz Rathore, School Nutrition Programs Specialist, Nutrition Services Division, at 916-445-4839 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.