INTRODUCTION: Children in out-of-home care have high, unrecognized, and unmet health needs. The combination of exposure to abuse and neglect and a background of social disadvantage place them at significant risk for poor health, which affects their physical, developmental, and emotional health.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to screen children in out-of-home care for unidentified health problems and recommend appropriate health interventions.
METHODS: A health screening clinic for children in out-of-home care was established in a tertiary children's hospital in 2005 in collaboration with social services. Working within a multidisciplinary framework, the children had a comprehensive physical, developmental, and behavioral health screen. Recommendations were made to social services for appropriate health care.
RESULTS: Of the 122 children screened, 24% had incomplete immunizations, 20% had visual problems, 30% had dental problems, and 26% had hearing loss, 45% of the children under 5 years of age had speech delay, 60% failed the developmental screen, and 54% had significant behavioral and emotional problems.
CONCLUSIONS: Children in out-of-home care are a vulnerable group of the child population who experience unacceptable levels of poor health. Comprehensive health screens are important for identifying previously undetected health problems and recommending appropriate health interventions.
Submitted by Dimitra Tzioumi
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics