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New California Effort Launched to Avert Accidental Child Poisonings

With seed money from the popular California Kids' License Plates Program, a new effort has been launched to cut the number of accidental child poisonings throughout the state.

The three-year-old California Poison Control System (CPCS), which handles about 300,000 phone requests a year for poison information and help, has secured a $30,000 grant from Kids' Plates to launch a pilot program aimed at protecting more children. The strategy is to encourage adults to make "The Right Call for Poison Help."

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The educational program targets parents and care providers of kids under six. CPCS provides instructional materials and videos in both English and Spanish, and will solicit feedback from them in writing and by phone. Materials are already in place in a number of sites, and follow-up calls will be made this winter. Responses will help tailor a larger state effort.

By next summer, educational packages will be developed and ready for distribution to all California Head Start state preschools as well as state and federally funded Women, Infant, Children (WIC) programs.

"We hope this program will boost use of the CPCS hotline to prevent injuries and save lives," said Elise Stone, Health Education Coordinator for the San Francisco Division of CPCS and manager of the new pilot program.

The California Kids' Plates Program which provided the funding for the pilot project is part of the California Specialty License Plates program. State Senator Jackie Speier authored legislation to create the child protection part of the program while she was a member of the State Assembly.

"I am proud that the Kids' Plate Program can contribute to this critical effort to prevent accidental poisoning of our children," Speier said. "Kids' Plates was created for this very purpose " preventing injuries and protecting kids. California motorists can celebrate the fact that every hand, heart, star or plus sign they see on car licenses today has helped save the lives of our most precious commodity - our kids."

The CPCS pilot program has already netted further support in the form of a $10,000 commitment form Kaiser Permanent toward broad distribution of the new poison prevention educational materials throughout the state.

The statewide California Poison Control System (CPCS) allows Californians to dial one toll-free number from anywhere in the state. CPCS consists of four divisions located at Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno/Madera, UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, UC San Diego Medical Center and the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center. The California Poison Control System is managed by the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy.

State Senator Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) will participate in media briefing Tuesday, December 14 AT 10:00 am, highlighting the new program to increase poisoning protection for children. Parents of kids in the program (both English and Spanish speaking) will be available for interviews. The briefing will be at Oceanview State Preschool, adjacent to Aptos Middle School, 105 Aptos Avenue (near intersection w/ Ocean Ave.) in San Francisco.