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July/August 2010Vol. 11, No. 6Health Care for Transitioning Youth

The National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA) has published an issue brief, Addressing the Health Care Needs of Transitioning Youth, that describes how some States are working to provide health care to youth who are transitioning out of foster care and into independence.

Children in foster care are more likely to experience acute and chronic health conditions. While they are entitled to health-care benefits through Medicaid, a lack of Medicaid providers reduces their chances of consistent and timely care—and those benefits end when they leave the foster care system.

The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 requires States to create and maintain a health oversight and coordination plan for each young person in foster care. The objective of these plans is for health-care providers to ensure that each child receives regular and comprehensive care, access to services beyond his or her 18th birthday, and a medical passport—an electronic, portable record of the child’s medical and family health histories.

Thirty-two States extend Medicaid coverage to youth beyond age 18. The paper gives examples of how some States coordinate and monitor health-care provision for youth in, and out of, foster care:

  • California, Colorado, and Maine have Medicaid passport programs; South Carolina is developing one. 
  • Alaska has programs that keep children in foster care with the same doctor throughout the life of the child's case.
  • Arizona, Delaware, and Minnesota teach life skills including understanding medical needs, the dangers of high-risk behaviors, and family planning.
  • Nebraska provides detailed medical records, including immunization and medical histories, to youth as they leave the system.
  • New York operates comprehensive health-care coordination—including evaluations, referrals, treatment plans, and education—for each child in foster care.

To read the issue brief, go to: (47 KB)