San Francisco Uses School Registration to Identify Children's Health Needs

Child health initiative for refugee/immigrant newcomers

One in five children living in San Francisco was born outside the United States. Although many of their families were admitted into the country legally, they were met with few resources when they set foot in the United States. They know little about the US health care system, and the system knows very little about them. This puts them at a severe disadvantage in obtaining health care.

The Child Health Initiative for Immigrant/Refugee Newcomers (CHIRN) reasoned that school registration provided a golden opportunity to begin bridging this gap. With the collaboration of the school district and the health department, the initiative placed bilingual, bicultural field workers in the registration centers to offer health screening and community resources as part of the registration process. This strategy achieved multiple objectives: It found children with immediate health needs, linked families with primary care, and documented the health needs of the population.

Who is served?

This initiative serves low-income, foreign-born children of elementary school age who have lived in the United States for two years or less and who have unresolved health or medical problems and/or are having difficulty in obtaining the health care services they need.

Our greatest achievement in the area of service integration was assisting newly arrived immigrants in establishing their preventive health care and transitioning them into a new psycho-social environment."—Rosemary Lee, Coordinator, CHIRN Program