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TennCare Shelter Enrollment Project

family at doctor

The TennCare Shelter Enrollment Project exists to ensure that children who are experiencing homelessness in Tennessee can enroll in and enjoy the benefits of TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid managed care program).  

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council initiated the TennCare Shelter Enrollment Project in 1998 with support from a HUD Emergency Shelter Grant provided through the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

The project is now supported by a contract with the Bureau of TennCare, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

What are the goals of the project?

The primary goal of the project is to improve the health of children experiencing homelessness by increasing their access to health insurance and to primary and preventive health care.  We also offer resources, education, and assistance to shelter staff and residents as they navigate the healthcare system.

How does the project accomplish these goals

The project initiatives include educating shelter providers and the families they serve about TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid managed care program) and available community resources while  working with a variety of stakeholders in communities across the state to identify and reduce obstacles to care.

What unique challenges do children without homes face when accessing care through TennCare?

Many consumers who are homeless lack awareness of TennCare eligibility criteria, enrollment procedures, and covered benefits through TennCare Connect and have difficulty filling out applications and satisfying documentation requirements.  In addition, clients without a stable address often miss communications regarding eligibility, enrollment, changes in benefits, redetermination of benefits, and loss of benefits.  

Those who have been uninsured long term may not understand the benefits that come from a primary care provider, a medical home, regular screenings, preventive care, etc. and may struggle to interpret complicated insurance and medical jargon.  Transportation, childcare, and finding a provider can also pose challenges.

How does the project help children without homes overcome these challenges?

We provide trainings, resources, and individual assistance to emergency shelter staff and homeless families about TennCare, health risks for children who are homeless, and the importance of preventive care.  We teach shelter staff and clients how to enroll  and navigate the redetermination of benefits process and we distribute information and updates regarding TennCare, managed care organizations, and community healthcare agencies.

The project also coordinates partnerships between emergency shelters and local community healthcare resources while advocating on behalf of children without homes to public officials, coalitions, and contractors involved in Medicaid.



Follow the links below to learn more about TennCare and other healthcare resources for children without stable homes in Tennessee:

Resources for shelter providers:


 Consumer Engagement Coordinator

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