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City Scouts for Uninsured Kids

It is estimated that 8,200 children throughout Richmond may not receive proper health care because they are uninsured. The figure represents nearly 10 percent of 91,668 low-income children in Virginia who public health officials fear are uninsured.

The new local outreach effort is called Richmond's C.H.I.L.D.R.E.N., (Children's Health Initiative — Leaders Dedicated to Reaching Every Neighborhood). It differs from previous programs to sign children up with health insurance in that all the paperwork can be filled out and filed immediately.

While there have been numerous efforts by the city and state to make it easier for kids to get signed up for the free programs, many have had limited success because families don't follow through with registering them, says Colleen Fischvogt, a spokesperson with the city.

"This is a turnkey effort," she says. "You can walk in and have kids registered right then and there."

There are no added costs to the city, Fischvogt points out. The city received technical assistance and money through the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its volunteers recently attended a training session in New Orleans where the program originated.

FAMIS covers doctor's and hospital visits for expectant mothers and vaccinations, prescriptions, tests, dental and vision care for children.

The Saturday volunteers are easy to spy. They sport yellow polo shirts, carry IDs and are eager to answer questions, Fischvogt says. — B.W.

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