"The Child and Teen Checkup is for children on Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care. It is a more thorough, more comprehensive examination with the focus on prevention. It is really a great benefit that comes along with Medical Assistance… "The Child and Teen Checkup is for children on Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care. It is a more thorough, more comprehensive examination with the focus on prevention. It is really a great benefit that comes along with Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care," said Grace Anderson, Senior Community Health Worker, Hennepin County Child and Teen Checkups.

Anderson said her job, as Community Health Worker, is to make sure that people understand the Child and Teen Checkup package, and to encourage them to use it. "The guidelines for child and teen checkups are set up by the federal government to assure that families receive a thorough and comprehensive examination. Doctors and clinics have to follow those guidelines. Sometimes when children go to the doctor, some physicians may do a quick check and say, 'see you back in a year or two,' and the parents feel like ‘Well, is that all?’ But when the parents ask for the Child and Teen Checkups by name when they go into the clinic, that obligates health care workers to follow those guidelines to make sure that those children receive a very thorough and comprehensive exam," Anderson told the "Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum" broadcast at North Community High School, Saturday, Dec. 18.

She continued, "They suggest that children should go in every two years starting at age six. But we encourage the families to take their children in for checkups every year at no extra cost. The health plan will pay for annual checkups. Our community needs to focus on getting the children used to going in every year so that they can value preventive health care and as they grow up to be adults, they will continue to go in annually. You all know that if anything is diagnosed early, it can be treated early, which reduces more problems down the line.

"In our community, there are free clinics for those families that are not eligible for Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care. I do encourage and promote St. Mary’s medical clinics because they are free and all their services are donated. They are trying to keep our community healthy. So, if we want to keep our community healthy, we have to connect our community to the free clinics that are out there," Anderson said.

Black families need to establish a medical home, she said. "I mean a real medical home where you can feel free to discuss your problems and concerns. A lot of times, the clinics are not culturally sensitive. Some doctors will keep asking Black parents about corporal punishment, thinking that we don’t know how to take care of our children. That becomes a barrier because it makes people afraid of the system. When those questions are asked, they are not going to bring in their children every year because they feel threatened that they may lose their kids. So we have a lot of disparities as a result of such barriers," she said.

"Parents in this community must know that parents have the right to do corporal punishment. But you have to understand the difference between child abuse and corporal punishment so that if someone asks you, you don’t have to be intimidated by that question. To slap a child in the face– that’s child abuse. But to maybe tap a child’s hand and say, 'no,' firmly, that’s not abuse," said Anderson.

For more information on Hennepin County Child and Teen Checkups, call (612) 348-5456.

1/03/2005

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