New Screening Tool Helps Californians Learn Quickly if They Might Qualify for Medi-Cal and Food Stamps
- Anonymous screener especially helpful for first-time applicants
- Connects them directly to proper agencies, avoids wrong alleys
OAKLAND, Calif., May 14, 2020 – In an effort to help the millions of Californians in need of health insurance and food assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alluma has created a free screening tool that tells them in under three minutes if they may qualify for public benefits.
Called Quick Screener, the tool asks a few basic questions that let people know if they may be eligible for Medi-Cal or CalFresh (food stamps in California), and connects them immediately to the appropriate application based solely on ZIP code. The tool does not require a sign-in or email address, nor does it collect private data.
“People are in crisis right now, losing their jobs and their health insurance along with it,” said Tommaso Esmanech, executive director of solutions management with Alluma, a nonprofit social enterprise that develops technology solutions for government agencies and nonprofits that support people seeking public benefits. “The last thing they need is to spend time tracking down where and how to apply for help, and filling out an application, before they even know if they’re eligible. This screening tool lets them find out quickly if they might qualify, and takes them directly to the right place to apply – all while remaining anonymous.”
“At a time when more and more families are finding themselves vulnerable and in need of immediate support, it’s important that they find that help as easily as possible. The Quick Screener will save families valuable time as they try to juggle the many daunting challenges before them.”
Helping First-time Applicants Navigate the Process
With many people seeking public assistance possibly for the first time in their lives, Esmanech noted that many feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to turn for help. “People get online — maybe using Google — to find the right agency or department,” he said. “They often try multiple routes, and can run up against brick walls along the way, encounter wrong information, or endure endless circles before they find the right place for support. We want to reduce that level of frustration and anxiety.”
“At a time when more and more families are finding themselves vulnerable and in need of immediate support, it’s important that they find that help as easily as possible,” said Mayra E. Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership and board chair of Alluma. “The Quick Screener will save families valuable time as they try to juggle the many daunting challenges before them.”
Although the Quick Screener can be accessed by anyone with internet access and a computer, tablet or smartphone, the tool also can be valuable for eligibility workers or nonprofits that are helping people apply for benefits. “Now that many government and nonprofit staff are working from home, they may not have ready access to the same information they did from their office,” Esmanech said. “They can use the tool themselves, or refer applicants to it so that they can turn their attention to more complex matters.”
The Quick Screener is currently available in English and Spanish, for Medi-Cal and CalFresh in California. To try the Quick Screener, go to www.alluma.org/alluma-quick-screener.
Alluma is a leading nonprofit social enterprise on a bold mission: to eliminate barriers that keep people from connecting to essential services. We accomplish this goal by working collaboratively with government agencies, community organizations, and others to create thoughtful solutions that unlock the possibilities of both technology and policy. Our eligibility and enrollment solutions have connected more than 25 million people across the country to critical health and human services that change lives and create stronger communities. Alluma is based in Oakland, California, with offices in Sacramento, CA and Phoenix, Arizona. Learn more at www.alluma.org.