Commission Delays Request to Fund Exams for Abused Children

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, December 14, 2009
UPDATE - Monday afternoon:

A Sacramento County commission has delayed a request to fund medical exams for abused or neglected children.
Those “medical clearance exams” were cut at the end of October because of a breakdown in the relationship between the county and the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. So the county is working with the Sutter Health System to ask for new funds.

On Monday, the county’s First Five commission asked for more information and delayed a vote until January.
If approved, the exams likely wouldn’t start until July of 2010.


Last month, we told you how a breakdown in the relationship between Sacramento County and the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento led to the elimination of medical exams for abused or neglected children (see the link to the right for more).  On Monday, the county will learn if it gets replacement funding to restore and expand that program with a new provider.

The UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento offered these “medical clearance exams” for decades.  But the hospital canceled them at the end of October, citing what officials called the county’s “erratic” payment history.  Since then, the county says, 66 young children who were removed from their homes have gone without a clearance exam.  District Attorney Jan Scully says the program is critical.
Scully: “The clearance exams are provided to every child, age five and under, who was removed from his or her home – and for any child who complains of pain or injury or any child’s evidenced in need of an examination. And so we often discover injuries and abuse on other children that otherwise would have never come to our attention.”
Budget woes mean the county can’t afford to pay for this program any more on its own.  So Child Protective Services is applying for $700,000 from the county’s First Five Commission, which promotes the health and development of children under five.  That would keep the exams going through June of 2012.  Since UC Davis won’t work with the county anymore, CPS is teaming up with a newer program at the Sutter Health System.  And the county’s Martha Haas says the proposal includes new services too:
Haas: “The part we’re really excited about is the developmental screening and follow-up home visits within seven days of the exam by a public health nurse.”
There is one catch, and it’s a big one: the First Five Commission is prohibited from funding a program until six months after it’s canceled.  So even if commissioners approve the county’s request at their meeting today, the exams won’t be available until next May.