Children in foster care: How to address their mental health needs

There is an urgency to ensure each child’s needs are addressed when he or she enters foster care. Children in this system have greater health needs and frequently suffer from higher rates of behavioral and learning problems that are often misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Fortunately, we now have a guide on how to get these children in foster care the care they need. Recently, at a meeting sponsored by CMS Health Care Payment and Learning Action Network on how to pay for quality health care, reports were delivered from two children’s hospitals, Nationwide Children’s in Ohio and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The reports found that by coordinating health, mental health, health education and dental services, both systems are seeing that children in poverty get what they require and do better in terms of health and behavior. It even projects improvements in educational outcome.

In Wisconsin, the Children’s Hospital has essentially assumed command of the care of foster children. The hospital merged with the social service agency that supplies case workers and classes for families. Moreover, it ensures that all health and mental health services and information are shared on one record. Also, Children’s Hospital supplies special training, back up and support to families who take on the responsibility of children with special behavioral needs. Their succesful method is fundamentally the plan that Delaware’s Task Force laid out and has been implemented with great success. The protocol includes that:

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