By Cathy Carter
As new health care reform laws slowly take shape, there are concerns about the 9 percent of children in Virginia who are uninsured. To fill the gap, some local health care workers are offering help.
At the Arlandria Health Center in Alexandria, Virginia, families are taking advantage of free health care screenings for kids entering school for the first time. They're receiving free physicals and getting their mandatory immunizations. The Back to School Health Fair is sponsored by the Junior League of Northern Virginia.
Volunteer Jeri Kirschner says these programs will be necessary for several more years because reform isn't going to happen overnight.
"Part of health care reform is that every state has to have a health insurance exchange where people can buy insurance," says Kirschner. "Virginia is just in the process of forming a committee to look at a health insurance exchange, so you may not start to see these exchanges until about 2014 or 2015."
Until then, clinics like the Arlandria Health Center are encouraging uninsured families to see if they qualify for for programs like Project Connect, Virginia's Child Health Insurance Program.