On Wednesday morning a roundtable discussion focused keeping continuity of medical care and education for transient children placed into foster care due to the drug epidemic.
“It has become a child welfare crisis in our state,” said Dr. John R. Phillips, President of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at WVU Medicine Children’s. “80 percent of children moved from homes are due to the drug epidemic in our state. In 2006, 970 children were removed from homes because of drug abuse. In 2016, that skyrocketed to 2,171 children.”
Dr. Phillips says West Virginia leads the nation in the number of children removed from homes.
One of the proposed solutions to making sure records stay with children so they can receive care and continue to learn is an electronic record that can be accessed throughout the state.
“A lot of the systems, particularly electronic medical records, don’t interface with each other,” explained Dr. Phillips. “The foster family may not receive that information upon receiving the child. A significant number of children in foster care who come from the Southern part of the state actually get placed in middle counties such as Harrison County or Marion County. The people who these children have been cared for recently actually aren’t even in the same county.”
This was just one of a set of roundtables to cover different issues with children’s healthcare across the state organized by the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
“Everything we talk about in Washington about taxes, about education, about employment, that all starts with a child,” said Dr. Phillips. “There’s big band-aids that we could put on things, but if we want to change the out the long term outlook of America, you have to approach the child right? We have to fix what’s happening to our children so that they grow up to be healthy adults, to be good citizens, pay their taxes, get jobs, be educated.”