This new brief released by First Focus highlights a number of critical health concerns and policies impacting children in the foster care system.

Children who have been abused or neglected often have a range of unique physical and mental health needs, physical disabilities and developmental delays, far greater than other high-risk populations. For instance, foster children are more likely than other Medicaid children to experience emotional and psychological disorders and have more chronic medical problems. In fact, studies suggest that nearly sixty percent of children in foster care experience a chronic medical condition, and one-quarter suffer from three or more chronic health conditions. In addition, nearly 70% of children in foster care exhibit moderate to severe mental health problems, and 40% to 60% are diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder.

First Focus believes that in order to truly improve the provision of health care for children in foster care, we must shift our federal efforts and investments toward developing a more comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of foster children. First Focus has identified several critical issues that should be examined in any future efforts to improve health care for all children in care.