The health care needs of children in foster care are vast and often compounded by their circumstances. These children face myriad challenges – from placement instability, to emotional, behavioral, and educational difficulties, to juvenile justice involvement – that threaten their health and well-being. Because they are often at the intersection of multiple public systems including behavioral health, child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and primary care, it is critical for these systems to work collaboratively to meet their health needs.
Much national attention is currently being directed toward this population, particularly around the issue of psychotropic medication use, which has shed a spotlight on the behavioral health challenges faced by these children. Most children in foster care are insured through Medicaid, which makes state Medicaid agencies one of the major players in developing solutions to address the issues of this population.
Medicaid and Children in Foster Care, authored by Kamala D. Allen, MHS, and Taylor Hendricks, MS, of the Center for Health Care Strategies, details the health care needs of children in foster care and the role of Medicaid in providing health coverage for this population. It also highlights existing policy levers that may help to address some of the ongoing health and well-being issues faced by children in foster care.