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Park City Resident Named Executive Director of Voices For Utah Children

Voices For Utah Children

Voices for Utah Children recently hired a Park City Local to take on the role of Executive Director. They work on policy and advocacy for children under the age of 19.
Park City resident Moe Hickey has accepted the leadership position with Voices for Utah Children after leaving his role as Managing Director of the Park City Institute.  He says Utah has 71,000 children who have no health insurance and their focus right now is to fill in where CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid fall short. They’re goal is 100 percent coverage for all children under the age of 19. Hickey says they’ll have a comprehensive report later this fall, but preliminary numbers show that the number of uninsured children in Summit County is higher than the state average.

“CHIP doesn’t’ cover everybody. We have undocumented children. We have parents who are just not signing up because they’re just not sure what to do. There’s a host of issues and now with the proposition being tinkered with after we were going to have health insurance based on the [Medicaid] expansion, now that’s in limbo. Last week, we just took a look at Summit County because we have some of the raw data coming in, and 24 percent of the students in Summit County do not have health insurance.”

Hickey says most of Utah’s uninsured children are Caucasian and from rural communities. Summit County children who don’t have health insurance have access to the People’s Health Clinic and Hickey says his organization works closely with partners like this to help them anticipate demographic changes.

“The bulk of the children used to be right here in 84060, 84098. We’re starting to see that number rise in the Kamas area. We’re starting to see that number rise in Heber. So, it’s the workforce that’s moving away from Park City now that doesn’t have insurance that is now starting to spread into those communities. We can also be proactive now and say, here’s something that’s coming up on the horizon.”

Hickey says his organization works on legislative policy changes to help improve children’s access to healthcare.

“And, we’re falling behind. In healthcare, we’ve gone down to 21st in the nation for children’s healthcare. Where at one point, I believe, we were up at 9th and it’s been a pretty quick decline.”

Voices for Utah Children is focused on the issues of universal early childhood education and affordable childcare. They don’t run programs. They want to help develop state policies to address the challenges.

“In the state of Utah for childcare for a zero to two-year-old, that age group only, on average costs more than an average year of tuition at the state university in Utah. There are so many people that can’t afford it. There are so few places offering it. We have a waiting list in park City that hopefully is being addressed.”

Hickey says research from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve shows for every dollar invested in early childhood education, there is a $14 return over the life of that person. He doesn’t think the state will increase education funding right now, but he thinks some efficiencies can be realized.

“Let’s have a plan that if we put in high quality pre-school over the next eight years, we wouldn’t need as much remediation. We wouldn’t have truancy problems. We wouldn’t have as many ESL classrooms.” 
 Hickey says tax reform will have a major impact on school and health and human services funding in the state.

“The money has been going to transportation from the education budget out of the higher ed budget. There’s been about $150 million dollars a year going to transportation. We have chosen not to address transportation for years. We never raised the gas tax. Then we did it on a percentage basis. And that’s the real hole right now in our budget.”

As director, Hickey plans to also work closely with the legislature, state school board and the education association to address the burgeoning mental health issues that are emerging in schools throughout the state.

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