Fostering Better Care

Children entering foster care are receiving extensive screening – but is it cost-effective?

December 2017

When a child enters foster care, he or she receives a full medical evaluation, including laboratory testing of hemoglobin and lead levels and screening for hepatitis B and C, syphilis, tuberculosis, HIV, and (in sexually active adolescents) gonorrhea and chlamydia. But is all this testing really necessary – and is it worth the cost to the foster care system? New research suggests not (1).

Children entering foster care currently undergo laboratory testing based on recommendations developed by an expert panel in New York, which were last endorsed in 2005 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “At the time, expert opinion was the highest level of evidence available, as there was very little scientific literature on children in foster care,” explains lead author Mary Greiner, who goes on to say that research is paying increasing attention to this underserved population and opinion is shifting.

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