• June 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 5

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Health Screenings for Children in Foster Care

To ensure children in foster care receive the health services needed to address their medical, developmental, and mental health issues, the Social Security Act requires that States have a plan for the oversight and coordination of health services. This ongoing coordination of services includes establishing a schedule for initial and periodic screenings, which may include medical, dental, hearing, vision, mental health, and other assessments. In addition, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is responsible for monitoring the delivery of health services as part of its oversight of States' foster care programs. A new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services examines whether children in foster care receive required health screenings according to their States' schedules.

Four States with large foster care populations (California, Illinois, New York, and Texas) were studied to determine whether children in foster care received health screenings required in each State's plan. Researchers examined a random sample of 100 children who were in foster care in each of the four States and enrolled in Medicaid between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. They also interviewed ACF staff to determine whether ACF ensures that the required screenings were received. Results from the study include the following findings:

  • Nearly one-third of children in foster care who were enrolled in Medicaid did not receive at least one required health screening.
  • Over one-quarter of children in foster care who were enrolled in Medicaid received at least one required health screening late.
  • ACF's reviews do not ensure that children in foster care receive required health screenings according to State schedules.

Recommendations for addressing these issues include:

  • Expand the scope of ACF's Child and Family Services Reviews to determine whether required screenings are received according to the timeframes indicated in States' plans
  • Identify and disseminating State strategies to ensure that all children in foster care receive required screenings
  • Identify barriers preventing children in foster care from receiving required screenings
  • Identify, disseminate, and implement strategies for overcoming those barriers

The report Not All Children in Foster Care Received Required Health Screenings is available on the OIG website at http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-13-00460.pdf (453 KB).
 

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