The Need to Improve Care in Foster Care

Foster Today logoAs a child-welfare caseworker, it was pleasantly surprising to see the issues surrounding health care for youth in care (children and young adults that the state has guardianship of) brought to the local-media main stage.

Society often thinks of foster care when we imagine where youth in care are placed. However, substitute care is the more accurate term that encompasses many types of placements.

These placements include but are not limited to residential facilities, shelters, transitional living programs and various types of foster care. It is important to note that the majority of these young people have endured extensive trauma.

For far too long, the insurance provided to youth in care by the state has been inadequate. Medicaid is an excellent resource for basic health care, but unfortunately, the same cannot be said for dental, vision and any sort of specialty medical need. Youth in care with specialty dental needs like advanced orthodontic, endodontic or oral surgery face rigorous approval processes.

As a result, case workers become the primary advocates for these children and adolescents. When you get into specialty medical needs, there are very few providers that will take Medicaid. These young people are often forced to travel great distances to get the care they need.

I hope the new managed-care approach within the Medicaid system will provide adequate and equitable health care to this vulnerable population.

T.J. CALVIN

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