Assembly Member Chan to Propose 10 Children’s Health Bills to Meet Recommendations in Select Committee Report
Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) plans to introduce a package of bills this year to improve children's health in the state in response to a report released yesterday by the Assembly Select Committee on California Children's School Readiness and Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/14). In the report, the committee analyzed data from a past study on the relationship between absenteeism and poor academic performance in four "low-performing" state schools and held a series of hearings and roundtables across the state over seven months. The report found that many children have vision problems and that half of children ages six to eight have untreated dental disease. According to the report, the state should "practice setting high health standards" for children to help students "achieve high academic goals." The report recommended that the state:
- Eliminate the Medi-Cal "asset test," which includes assest as well as income in the state's determination of a family's eligibility;
- Establish a Department of Children's Services to help coordinate health services for children and their families;
- Develop "one-stop" family resource centers to help families "irrespective of the nature" of their problems;
- Expand mandatory vision screening for school children to include tests for "all vision impairments"; and
- Require automatic referral of children to a dentist by age one and dental exams before pre-school and kindergarten ("Preparing Our Children to Learn," March 2002).
Chan plans to introduce 10 children's health bills this year and hopes to implement some of the committee's recommendations in the next five years. However, she said that some of the recommendations "will have to wait." She added that she will propose a study on a plan to implement a tax on junk food to cover the cost of children's dental care (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/14). The full committee report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
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