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Nearly a Third of Foster Kids Don't Get Required Health Screenings

More than half of children in foster care aren’t getting their required health screens on time according to a report released last week by the Health and Human Services Department Office of the Inspector General.

Pediatricians call it a health problem that endangers the most vulnerable population of children who have often experienced abuse and neglect. Furthermore, children in the foster system are at an elevated risk for chronic physical and mental health conditions.

"This is a case where the most vulnerable children are not being served in the way that they should be. One could argue that these are the children who most deserve consistent health care and supervision," said Doctor Jeff Kaczorowski, a Pediatrician and the President of the Children’s Agenda.

Nearly a third of kids in foster care have missed at least one required health screening, and around a quarter were screened late.

More than 400 thousand U.S. children were in the foster system in 2013, when the data was gathered. The study looked at four states: New York, California, Illinois, and Texas, but pediatricians say the problem exists across the country.

"This is a matter where the system fails kids. The incredible churning of the foster care system is a problem. The accountability of the state is a problem. We need to develop innovative models on behalf of kids and families to make sure that they can get appropriate care," said Kaczorowski.

Based in Monroe Country, one model is Starlight Pediatrics—a medical home for foster children. The clinic provides for and oversees the health needs of the very transient foster child population.

Doctor Moira Szilagyi founded the program and is a national leader in health for foster children. The doctor says communities must meet these children’s needs.

"It turns out that providing excellent preventative health care services, whether your patient is simple or complex, but doing it preventatively as an outpatient, not only makes the child's life better and the family's life better, it saves money in the long run," Szilagyi.