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FOR RELEASE: July 27, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Children First Program Audit Results Released

State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch released today a summary of the findings of a comprehensive audit of records of the Children First Program. Beitsch had ordered the audit July 12 following a preliminary review of a Children First case record that indicated two public health nurses may have failed to follow established protocols in reporting suspected child abuse.

Beitsch directed a statewide audit using a random sampling of Children First records to assure that nursing practices were being delivered in an appropriate manner.

Following Beitsch's directive, 2,871 Children First records were audited. Of that number, 12 records suggested that further follow up with the Department of Human Services was indicated. These situations, however, dealt primarily with suspected neglect issues. No clients were identified as being in immediate jeopardy of harm.

“I believe this audit validates that the correct procedural safeguards are in place to assure the health and safety of those served by the Children First program,” Beitsch said.

The Children First program provides community-based voluntary family resource and support services that focus on nurse home visitation to families during pregnancy and until the child's second birthday. The program began in Oklahoma in 1997 as a pilot project in four Oklahoma counties and expanded statewide in 1998. During FY 2001, the Children First Program made 82,944 home visits to more than 7,819 Oklahoma families.

“Our nurses undergo extensive training in all aspects of prenatal, infancy and toddler health, “ Beitsch said. “In particular, they are trained to identify the signs of suspected child abuse or neglect and to report their observations to the Department of Human Services as required by law.”

Beitsch said the program would continue to emphasize training opportunities for its home visitation workforce. Additional audits of the Children First caseload will be considered, including case management, prenatal outcomes, and growth and development.

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