Child Health

Day in the Life: Graciela Camarena

February 19, 2020 | Texas


Graciela Camarena joined CDF-Texas Rio Grande Valley office in 2012.

As a Child Health Outreach Program Director, Gracie works with families, schools and community partners to connect uninsured children with affordable health coverage. She is joined by Mary and Tina, our RGV Community Health Outreach Associates.

Prior to joining CDF, she spent 18 years in public health and social services in a variety of outreach and administrative roles. In 2002, Gracie was the first State of Texas Community Health Worker, Promotora de Salud, to be certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services. She considers it a blessing to be able to inform, educate and make a difference in the lives of children and families by improving access to care in Texas’ vulnerable border communities.




Keep reading to see her story on just one of the many days she’s able to make an impact in the lives of children and families!


Thursday, January 30, 2020

So, this morning I get a call to my cell from Sylvia Chavez, parental involvement from ECISD. She has the parents of a student who has been referred to truancy court. Now, this student isn’t a troublemaker, she is a shy 12-year-old girl with anxiety and fears going to school. She physically gets sick from being scared. Her father is a pastor at a small church and mom stays at home and helps with the prayer groups. They needed help applying but had never received the support they needed to do the process.

I asked them to come over and I would make time to see them as a walk-in. I explained who we were and what we did. I helped them fill out the 1010 paper application and explained it along the way so they knew what we were filling in and why. After the application was filled out and made copies of the supporting documents, I told the parents that I was not going to fax their application. Instead I suggested they take the completed application with the supporting documents and go to the local HHSC office and ask to be interviewed. This child (and a sibling) cannot wait 30-45 days or more to get coverage. There was no need to wait. Their income was within the guidelines, they had a completed application and supporting documents…and they needed to get their child seen and evaluated for behavior and physical health needs. I made sure they knew what to ask for, and if anyone told them they don’t do interviews for medical coverage or try to send them to the lobby computers to enter their application there, for them to call me and I would advocate on their behalf.

I filled out the application at 10am this morning. I just a received a call from the mom Norma (1:30pm). Her children now have Medicaid coverage effective as of Jan. 1, 2020. They were given proof of the coverage to take to the doctor today. Mom was at the doctor’s office hoping there were no delays in the system showing the benefits, and thank God there were none.

Feeling blessed – these are my rewards!


Read our last Day in the Life staff feature on Mary Carreon.