Human Services Agency launches e-health records for foster children

The Ventura County Human Services Agency announced on September 22, 2015, that local foster parents may now access critical health information for foster children through a new web-based system.

The new system, called Foster Health Link, is designed to engage foster parents and relatives more fully in supporting the health needs of foster children by giving these caregivers easy, secure, electronic access to health information about the children in their care.

Prior to Foster Health Link, foster parents received health information about foster children primarily through paper documents that were physically delivered to their homes by child welfare social workers. Manual updates to the paper documents lagged, leaving foster parents with questions about important issues such as immunization schedules and allergies.

Now, with Foster Health Link, caregivers may securely access updated health information about foster children 24/7 from a computer or mobile device, with paper documentation serving as backup.

“Foster parents take care of foster children’s day-to-day needs, so they need to have a full understanding of any health challenges that foster children may be facing,” said Barry L. Zimmerman, Director of the Human Services Agency. “Social workers, public health nurses and caregivers can partner more effectively to address foster children’s health needs when we all have access to the same reliable information,” Zimmerman continued.

Foster Health Link pulls health and education information from the state-administered Child Welfare Services Case Management System for all foster children regarding immunizations; allergies; medical conditions; medications; well child physical and dental exams; Medi-Cal insurance; school, grade level and special education plans; and more.

Additionally, Foster Health Link pulls e-records from the Ventura County Health Care Agency’s patient portal for all foster children through age 11 who have received care within the Ventura County Medical Center system of hospital, clinic and specialty services. This information includes real-time summaries of doctor visits, lab results, immunizations, medications and more.

Further, Foster Health Link offers caregivers quick links to an online resource library containing thousands of user-friendly articles, medical definitions, and other information designed to help caregivers better understand the health needs of foster children. This resource also makes it simple for caregivers to search for, map and contact local service providers such as therapists and counselors.

Early feedback from foster parents who have begun to use Foster Health Link is positive. Zimmerman noted, “This system is unique because it makes health information directly available to foster parents.” He continued, “Other systems may allow for information sharing among service providers, but foster parents are front and center in nurturing vulnerable children, and they deserve access to information that helps them give the best care possible.”

To view a video of the Foster Health Link system, visit http://fostervckids.org/