Healthcare and child welfare professionals alike recognize the pressing need to address the unmet healthcare needs of children in foster care. However, gaps between the two systems are preventing progress from being made. To solve this issue, closer collaboration is essential, and effective collaboration begins by understanding the difficulties within one another’s discipline. We’ve highlighted a few of those challenges below.

Challenges Facing Clinical Teams When Providing Care for Foster Youth

One of the biggest challenges that clinicians face when providing care for children experiencing the foster care system is finding ways to identify current and accurate custody status and placement information.

Once the custody status has been identified, healthcare providers struggle with receiving other critical information such as demographics, the reason for removal, placement history, birth history, and previous exposure to chemicals or diseases. Many times, they are even left unsure of who holds consent to share these pieces of information.

Most methods of sharing and obtaining documentation, such as referral forms or registries, are time-consuming and often result in disruptions in care. Helping clinical teams become aware of a child’s history and current needs will allow the team to effectively deliver the highest quality of care.

Challenges Facing Child Welfare Providers When Coordinating Care for Foster Youth

Like clinicians, child welfare providers struggle to obtain and share information with their healthcare partners. They are often left in the dark about a child’s healthcare needs such as medical diagnoses, medications, allergies, and upcoming appointments.

Missing these critical pieces of information prevents them from effectively coordinating care. This can lead to untreated health conditions, overutilization of emergency departments, overuse of psychotropic medications, and missed appointments and surgeries.

Providing child welfare teams with the healthcare records of children under their care will allow them to ensure continuity of care and prevent long-term consequences from occurring.

Closing the Gap with Technology

The implementation of secure information-sharing technology will support both child welfare and healthcare providers by relieving the strain continuously placed on them to request, obtain, and share information.

Healthcare providers will be able to develop treatment strategies that specifically match the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, which will then have a direct and positive effect on the burden of work facing today’s child welfare frontline caseworkers.

The content of this blog was pulled from the guide, Collaborating with Your Healthcare Partners to Achieve Better Health Outcomes for Children in Foster Care. Read the full guide here.