Foster children's health
Would benefit from electronic medical records

About this project

California’s foster care system often does a poor job of meeting foster children’s health needs, thanks to the often haphazard way their medical records are kept. By law, each time a foster youth in California is relocated, a comprehensive paper file of their medical records called a “health passport” is to be promptly forwarded with them to their new caregiver. But this doesn’t always happen, according to many foster care experts -- sometimes with potentially serious consequences. A growing number of child-welfare advocates are calling for the creation of a statewide electronic health passport system that would allow authorized health care providers to access a foster youth’s medical history online. Advocates say that such a computerized system could greatly improve medical care for already-traumatized children who have suffered more than their share of hardship and deprivation.

Stories

An "extraordinary" academy amid orange groves

Take away the blue-trimmed cottages next to San Pasqual Academy's main office, and at first glance, you would think you had stumbled across a traditional high school amid the orange groves and brown, boulder-pitted mountains outside Escondido.

Health care system struggles to follow foster kids

San Marcos resident Patty Boles has taken in more than 100 children during three decades as a foster mom. She specializes in caring for the most medically fragile kids the system has to offer, and has adopted 10 of them. If there's one thing Boles...

Health records neglected, lost for some foster children

Foster children in San Diego County have Rady Children's Hospital to help keep track of their health records and maintain quality medical care, but many others elsewhere in California are not as fortunate.

In Congress, psychiatrist pushes for foster health care

In 2008, Congress passed legislation broadly hailed as the most sweeping reform of federal child welfare policy in a decade. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., mandated among other elements that each state develop a plan for "the...

Inland Empire nonprofit automates records, speeds care for foster children

For doctors and nurses who treat foster children these days in the Inland Empire, instant access via the Internet to their patients' comprehensive, updated medical histories is no futuristic dream. It's reality.

Texas automates way to better health care

While California officials continue to debate how best to create a computerized medical records system for foster youths, their counterparts in Texas three years ago launched their own Web-based system. The benefits, they say, already have proven...

Authors

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.

This year, she is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. 

Project Partners

© 2019 Center for Health Reporting

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