The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), with the support of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and many state child welfare agencies, recommends that all children in foster care have a health screening visit within 72 hours of placement into foster care.
Ideally, all past relevant medical records would be available for this visit. In practice, however, many children may be placed without these records - and should be seen despite the incomplete past medical history.
In the absence of actual medical records, often some history can be pieced together from the child's social worker, from the child's child care or school, and often from the child himself.
Following this screening visit, all children should be scheduled to return for a comprehensive evaluation within 30 days of placement. During the time between the 2 visits, medical records can be obtained and reviewed. Caseworkers and medical offices should work together to obtain the necessary consents. The important components of the comprehensive visit include:
- All important information from these visits should be shared with the child welfare agency, juvenile court judge, parents (birth and foster) and kin, and the child, as appropriate. If evaluation is not done in the child's medical home, all relevant data should be communicated with the primary care pediatrician who will follow the child while in foster care.
- After the evaluation period, the child should have health maintenance visits according to the AAP recommendations for preventive health care. Because of the prevalence of significant medical, social, and mental health issues affecting children in foster care, additional visits are often advisable.
Click here to learn more about the health care standards for children and teens in foster care.