By Jared Weber - Stamford Advocate
His family's journey two years ago from Honduras to Norwalk was most taxing for Juan's 5-year-old daughter.
“She suffered a lot during the trip ... at times, you don’t have anything to eat. So, she became really sad, asking us if we’re going to make it where we’re going,” said the Honduran man, whose full name is not being disclosed because of his undocumented status. He said he came to the United States with his wife and daughter in search of better work and educational opportunities.
Upon arriving in Connecticut, the girl's parents fed her vitamins to replenish the nutrients she had lost. But she also needed professional care.
It was through Building One Community, a Stamford nonprofit, that the young family learned of the state's expanded Medicaid program for undocumented children ages 12 and younger. The expansion, which launched on Jan. 1, has been a vital resource, the 43-year-old father said.
“One of the main concerns as a father, as a parent, is to make sure that your kids have a future and they have opportunities,” said Juan, whose wife gave birth to a baby boy last month. “We’re now able to make sure that both kids are able to have access to doctors and medical help without having to pay out of pocket for it." Juan's children are two of about 5,500 residents the state expects to sign up this year for the expanded Medicaid program, known as HUSKY in Connecticut. Lawmakers voted to expand sign-ups to children, regardless of legal status, until they turn 13 years old — provided their guardians meet the program's qualifying income limits. The coverage lasts until the child's 19th birthday.