Health Needs for Children in Foster Care

Foster care children often have difficulties finding a consistent medical home. The children see different health professionals when their placement changes, which can be frequent. Health care providers then face difficulties to provide effective treatment with lack of follow up or inadequate knowledge of the child’s past course.

The placement process to new homes also creates many hurdles for the child. Coping with both mental and physical trauma from separation of caregivers are prime examples. Because of this, it is important for the child to have close follow up with health providers. However, difficulties maintaining continued care with appropriate medical and social services are a common struggle amongst foster children. Some common causes are lack of care coordination and lack of communication of valuable health information during the transition of care for the child.

The goal of a medical home is that all specialty services can be readily accessed so that a longitudinal, complete health record can be made and understood by all involved. With this, all health care needs for the children in foster homes would ideally go unmissed.

In the state of Texas, the total number of children in foster care was 30,740 for the fiscal year of 2013. In the city of Dallas alone, the number of children in foster care has increased each year since 2009 to a total of 3,948 children in 2012. This growing population is in need of unique medical and social care for the complex developmental, educational, and mental health concerns that often develop in these children.

Currently, Texas state policy makers are concerned about this issue. For more information on how to get involved to support the wellbeing of children in foster care, please visit the below website.

http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/healthy-foster-care-america/Pages/default.aspx

Margaret K. Hoge, MD

Information received from:

Beyond ABC: Assessing Children’s Health in Dallas County 2013. www.childrens.com/beyondabc

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. 2013 Annual Report and Data Sheet. https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/

American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx

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