Foster care inherently involves confusion, being overwhelmed, and difficulties learning life skills if a youth transitions a lot during their time in care. I definitely am one of those youth. One life skill that I wish I was taught is keeping my medical records, insurance information safe and how to contact my insurance company. I transitioned over twenty times in care and lost most of my medical records. My foster parents didn’t have any information on my family’s health history either. When I was injured my foster parents would bring me to the doctor and handle every aspect of the visit involving my health insurance (all the way up until I was eighteen.) The questions that involved my parents and family I embarrassingly skipped over and always had to explain I was a foster youth and didn’t have that information when the doctor asked - if my current foster parent didn’t out me already.
I believe if my caseworker or foster parents worked with me and explained the importance of keeping my medical records I would have never lost them. I should have been given my insurance card and the information to contact my insurance company once I reached an appropriate age. For me, I was mature enough to handle the responsibility of my physical health by the age of fifteen. Either way education on the subject would have absolutely helped me maintain my health as I went through care and aged out.
Older foster youth who are transitioning from home to home need to be taught important, practical life skills. Typically, youth like this end up aging out of care and living independently as I did. I was highly unprepared to handle the upkeep of my health and to store the important family history that can help a doctor treat me. It is important for caseworkers and foster parents to look at the process for this and improve the way they are teaching life skills to foster youth.
Youth Perspective by Brian Morgantini
Brian spent 14-years in Pennsylvania's foster care system. Read more about Brian.