Credit hours:

Course Summary

Youth in foster care are at a higher risk for medical and mental health problems, often as a direct result of their childhood trauma, making it extremely important that they receive high-quality, coordinated health care. In addition, health care is often court-ordered and may have been an unpleasant experience, where youth felt they had little control, creating unique challenges for them when transitioning out of care and beginning to manage their own health care. You as a foster parent can help with the difficult transition to adulthood by ensuring youth in your care are prepared to manage their health care prior to independence!

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Unique health needs of foster youth

  • How to empower foster youth as patients

  • Elements of Health Care Transition Planning

  • About health insurance for foster youth until 26

Step 1

Review “Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care” to gain insight into the unique challenges faced by youth who have experienced the child welfare system.

Step 2

Read about Brian’s experience as a foster youth with his health care through multiple transitions, a lack of information regarding his family of origin's medical history, and how his transition to adulthood was affected by not being taught valuable skills to manage his own health.

Step 3

Learn how to “Empower Foster Youth as Patients” at different ages or developmental levels by reviewing FosterClub’s resource developed for youth who have experienced or are currently experiencing foster care.

Step 4

Many foster youth are adverse to visiting a health care provider for a variety of reasons. You may be able to help a young person’s aversion to health care providers and facilities by discussing some basic rights they have as health care consumers. The following handout “Foster Youth Patient Bill of Rights” was developed by FosterClub to inform young people of some trauma-informed rights that may help them ease into getting the medical attention they need and deserve.

Step 5

Creating a transition timeline with youth in your care can be extremely beneficial to their long-term health outcomes. A young person aging out of foster care without proper health care coverage is at risk of suffering untreated health issues which could be detrimental to their independence and well-being. Review the following handout, "Foster Care Youth Transition Planning Timeline", created by FosterClub to guide foster youth and their supportive adults towards a transition plan that can help ensure a young person is prepared to successfully manage their health care needs prior to leaving foster care.

Step 6

Discover how aging out of foster care without healthcare affected Dashun's journey to independence through this heart-wrenching story about a serious medical condition that could have taken his life.

Step 7

Learn how foster youth qualify for health care until age 26 by reviewing the following handout, "Health Care Coverage for Former Foster Youth", developed by FosterClub.

Step 8

Visit, a collaborative project by FosterClub, First Focus, and the Juvenile Law Center for more information and to learn ways you and your youth can advocate for their rights.

Step 9

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How can you help support a smooth transition for young people in your home who are ready to begin taking over the management of their own health care? 

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Course Discussion

djgriff.griffin's picture

djgriff.griffin said:

I know that as a foster parent even I can become embarrassed when asked about medical history. Empowering them and giving them some responsibility is a great way to teach them for the future of their heath care.
Joe Nichols's picture

Joe Nichols said:

We can help them transition by showing them how to apply and doing the paperwork with them. Help them by being with them while they make appointments and even accompanying them to the appointments.'s picture

requiempress@gm... said:

We can walk them through everything in the healthcare system as it applies to them: making appointments, looking at insurance statements, reading prescription labels and inserts. All these things will help them transition.
lindseydandrews's picture

lindseydandrews said:

In a year or two in advance, I can begin preparing the youth. It can be a gradual learning before the transition takes place where they must handle everything on their own.
benrandrews's picture

benrandrews said:

I can over communicate and communicate on the child's level of understanding. I can get creative in the way that I make sense of a child's healthcare needs by explaining different situations in different ways.
jbwatts1's picture

jbwatts1 said:

I think it's important to show them how to access all benefits available to them, in some states, depending on the level of need and medical history, some kiddos will have the coverage for life!
ebirkinbine's picture

ebirkinbine said:

It's really important to educate kids in care about health care, about the need for doctors visits, and all their options for insurance once they get older.
Ali Hembree's picture

Ali Hembree said:

The healthcare system is overwhelming for me, and I'm a college-educated adult. Making myself aware of the benefits and resources available to my foster children is a key aspect of successfully caring for them. Making them a part of the self-care process from an early age is essential to helping them transition to adulthood.
lclw8686's picture

lclw8686 said:

It is important that young adult understand the important to managing their health and finances care as they approach independent care of themselves's picture replied:

Agree! It is also So important that Foster youth understand their options for medical coverage.