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Bakersfield, CA 93307
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Health Care Program for Children in Foster Care

Program Profile

The number of Foster Children in the state of California has doubled in the last decade and is expected to continue rising as a result of increased and continued parental drug use. Recent studies indicate that the long term effects of maltreatment, lack of continuity of healthcare and frequent placement changes often impact the physical, emotional and psychological development of children in Foster Care. As a result, pre-existing and preventable health conditions are frequently overlooked and under treated. This results in problems growing more acute as children move from placement to placement.

Foster children in California are dependent on government-funded health services to respond to their often complicated, acute and chronic health conditions. Former Governor Davis signed legislation in 1999 to hire Public Health Nurses statewide to work in Child Welfare Agencies in conjunction with the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program [CHDP] to address mental, physical and emotional healthcare needs that impact foster children in California.

These nurses work in collaboration with Department of Human Services Social Workers and Probation Officers to assist in the development and implementation of health service plans for foster children residing with foster care families or living in group homes. Statewide, counties have found Public Health Nurses to be helpful and beneficial in improving outcomes for foster children in California.

Did You Know?

  • Currently there are over 3000 foster children in Kern County, with approximately 225 on probation
  • 40-60% of children in foster care have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, cognitive abnormalities, visual and auditory problems, dental decay and poor nutrition
  • Lack of adequate medical records may often result in either over or under immunization and over or under treatment of chronic health conditions of foster children
  • Foster children require and use health services more than other children and are more highly represented in specialty clinics such as neurology and psychiatry in response to their overwhelming and complex needs
  • Foster children rarely enter the system with useful health records or mental health histories; confidentiality issues, bureaucratic requirements or limited parental knowledge and unavailability, restrict access to full documentation
  • Approximately 40-72% of foster children require ongoing medical treatment and studies indicate that 50-60% have moderate to severe mental health problems

The Foster Care Public Health Nurses work toward preventing disease and disability and improving health outcomes and building a healthier Kern County.

Additional Facts

  • Nationally there are over 500,000 foster children; California ranks among the highest with approximately 100,000 foster children
  • Foster children range from newborns to adolescents and include all ethnicities and races.
  • The Health Care Program for Children in Foster Care [HCPCFC] is a collaborative effort between the Kern County Department of Public Health and the Department of Human Services to ensure timely, high quality, consistent healthcare for all foster children in Kern County

Profile of Public Health Nurses Working With Foster Children

  • Advocate for the healthcare needs of foster children
  • Participate with the assessment providers or center in developing a healthcare plan
  • Assist foster parents in obtaining timely, comprehensive care for their foster children
  • Expedite timely referrals for medical, dental and mental health services
  • Follow children placed out of county to ensure access to necessary services
  • Serve as a resource to facilitate referral to early intervention providers, specialty providers, dentists, mental health providers, and other community based programs
  • Oversee the creation and updating of the Health and Education Passport as required by law, interprets medical reports for social workers, foster parents and the courts
  • Educate social workers, judges, foster parents, school nurses and others in the community about the unique and growing healthcare needs of foster children

For more information about the Health Care Program for Children in Foster Care in Kern County, please contact the Foster Care Public Health Nurses at:

The Health Unit
Department of Human Services
O.C. Sills Building, Room 220
100 East California Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93307
661.631.6835

Kern County Department of Public Health
1800 Mount Vernon Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93306

Emergency Response Public Health Nursing brochure
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