Studies have shown that children experiencing the foster care system have disproportionately higher rates of physical and behavioral health problems and unmet health needs. About 35% to 45% of children entering the system have chronic or untreated health conditions, and about 60% of children under the age of five have some developmental delay. All these children have experienced some level of trauma.

Specialized healthcare delivery for this population ensures that their healthcare needs are met.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has recognized various models of healthcare delivery for children in foster care. They include:

  • Evaluation/Consultation: A centralized facility to provide health assessment for child welfare with referral to primary care
  • Medical Home: A primary care office for children in foster care that includes initial evaluations and ongoing care
  • Preferred Provider: A network of primary care and specialty providers who provide care for children in foster care
  • Mental health/Development-Based Model: Medical care for children in foster care focused on mental health and/or development
  • Special Needs/Multidisciplinary: Focused care for children in foster care who have special health needs

All these models of healthcare delivery have one thing in common: a dedicated team that understands the effects of trauma and the healthcare needs of children in foster care. They can anticipate those needs to be proactive rather than reactive. Additionally, these models of healthcare delivery have access to robust resources in and outside of a healthcare setting that can make a difference for children, their families, and caregivers.

“It’s amazing to see the difference we can make. We have foster parents who are now calling us directly and it’s because of that experience. They’ll come in and say that ‘nobody’s ever listened to us, nobody’s given us the time. You really understand what we’re going through. You’re able to help the kids.’ We get that repeatedly,” Dr. Suzanne Haney shared in a recent Cordata webinar.

“People are just really excited that attention is being turned to having a dedicated clinic with resources and people who understand and want to hear their stories,” Dr. Bird Gilmartin added.

The benefits of specialized healthcare delivery go beyond the children and their families. A burden is also lifted from child welfare agencies and other stakeholders involved. “I collect quotes from our resource parents, our medical providers, and our DHS workers. And caseworkers are like, oh, this is great. We’ve gotten to the point where some of our judges are even saying, ‘hey, we want this family engaged [with the program].’ That, to me, is a huge win. And just relieving some of that burden from the resource parents who have a tough system to navigate,” Dr. Carissa Cousins shared.


Learn more about the models of healthcare delivery for children in foster care:

Watch a recording of the webinar: