This briefing is organized in coordination with the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth
Like all children, young people in foster care deserve the opportunity for health and well-being. However, in our current system, children in foster care have significant untreated health care needs, including physical, dental, emotional and behavioral health. Due in large part to adverse childhood experiences, foster kids are far more likely to experience toxic stress and to be diagnosed and treated for physical and behavioral health issues than children not in the child welfare system. Without support and treatment to help mitigate these effects, these young people may experience long term social, emotional and physical consequences.
Nearly 90 percent of young children entering the foster care system have physical health problems, and 55 percent have two or more chronic conditions. Almost a quarter of children entering foster care have three or more chronic conditions. The most common physical health issues among this population include skin conditions, asthma, anemia, malnutrition, and symptoms manifesting from abuse. While early difficulties can last a life time, they don’t have to.
This briefing will discuss the importance of Medicaid coverage for current and former foster youth and offer a range of opportunities to help treat and heal the impacts of early adversity and stress. It will also highlight the need to fix a glitch in Medicaid regulation affecting former foster youth.
Every year, 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system. The Affordable Care Act allows former foster youth to keep their Medicaid coverage until age 26, but only nine states currently offer that option. If they live in a state that offers it but move to one that does not, they lose their health care coverage. The briefing will highlight the need to allow these individuals to transition into adulthood without fear of losing health coverage, as other young adults who may stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
• Cathy Utz, Deputy Secretary for Children, Youth and Families, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
• Sarah Helvey, Child Welfare Program Director, Nebraska Appleseed
• Laticia Aossey, BSW, FosterClub Young Leader
• Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus (moderator)
Light refreshments will be available at 2:00 p.m.