ALAMEDA COUNTY: Program For High Risk Infants Proposed
Alameda County health officials will go before the county Board of Supervisors next month to propose a $120,000 program to provide better care to high-risk infants. Funded by a proposed $1 surcharge on Oakland Raiders football tickets, officials hope to offer follow-up visits for the 5,000 babies born in the county each year who are at high risk of "death, injury, abuse, neglect or developmental delays." Based on the findings of a 30-member committee convened last January to investigate the problem, county officials want to establish a voluntary "universal screening program for all infants and their families" and a "comprehensive home-visiting" follow-up program. Jeanette Dong, director of the Interagency Children's Policy Council, said, "We're talking about a very serious attempt at a coordinated effort for these babies and their families. What we haven't done is inexcusable." Shelly Neal of Maternal Child Adolescent Health "said research shows that for every $3 put into preventive programs, $6 is returned by avoiding costs associated with special education, juvenile justice, and other programs." Neal cited a Hawaii program, "considered a national model," in which home visits significantly reduced child abuse and neglect. More locally, she noted the success of San Mateo County's "Prenatal to Three Initiative," which tracks and provides home visits to all babies born to Medi-Cal eligible mothers (Horowitz, Hayward Daily Review, 9/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.