Arkansas Not Meeting All Healthcare Goals for Foster Kids

JULY 10, 2006 - Posted at 7:55 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas officials are citing staff shortages as a reason for delays in getting health care to foster children in the state, and they say the state is improving in getting care to the young people.

Rosemary White, an assistant director at the state Children and Family Services Division, says health care delays are not endangering Arkansas' foster children.

The division has set goals to provide timely medical care to children when they enter foster care.  Depending on the severity of any suspected abuse or neglect, children must receive health screenings within 24-72 hours.

The division's goal is to provide timely screenings to 95 percent of all children who enter foster care.  From July 2005 through March 2006, 81 percent of 366 children who required screenings within 24 hours received them on time, and 80 percent of 2,324 children who required screenings within 72 hours received them.

Jennifer Ferguson, operations and legal director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said fewer children are receiving timely care than in years past and the state can do better.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)