Foster parents get vital online tool to check children's records

Oct. 16, 2015
Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star

VENTURA, Calif. - Foster parents searching for records on the health conditions and education of the children in their care can now get
them quickly through an online tool, officials said Tuesday.

The Foster Health Link allows foster parents in Ventura County to look up information on immunizations, allergies, medical conditions
and medications, medical and dental exams, plus information on schooling. They may log on through a computer or mobile device.

Human Services Agency Director Barry Zimmerman, who explained the system to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, said he knows of no other system like it in the state.

Zimmerman said other systems may allow professionals access to the information, but this one is unique because it makes health
information directly available to foster parents.

“Foster parents are front and center in nurturing vulnerable children, and they deserve access to information that gives them the best care possible,” Zimmerman said.

Antony Brennan, a foster parent from Ventura, choked up as he told the board how much it meant to have the information available online and not have to wade through a stack of paperwork.

“You have no idea what it means to a foster parent trying to take care of kids,” he told the board.

The system went live on July 1. It cost $212,000, with two-thirds of the money coming from public sources and one-third from private
sources.

The system also contains links to an online resource library containing articles, medical definitions and other information to help foster parents understand the health needs of children in their care.

Previously foster parents received health information about foster children primarily through paper documents delivered to their homes by social workers, officials said. Updates to the paper documents lagged, leaving foster parents with questions about issues such as vaccination schedules and allergies, officials said.