By Phyllis Christensen, RN, SANE, CPMS
As a Registered Nurse for Upbring, I serve children with special health needs at our many Foster In Texas offices across the state. At Upbring we make it a priority to provide the very best care possible to what we call our Primary Medical Needs (PMN) children. These are children with serious medical needs who are often harder to find homes for due to the demands of caring for them. Many have terminal illnesses.
At Upbring, we support our excellent foster families in caring for children with special health needs by:
• Visiting PMN families at least quarterly to conduct assessments, answer questions and ease concerns.
• Helping parents navigate Medicaid, provide training on medication administration and regularly attend doctor appointments.
• Providing extra supports for children with special health care needs.
• Providing training and support for foster parents whose children exhibit behavioral health needs.
Due to the importance of health care coordination for children in care, I am pleased to announce the release of our eighth white paper in a series: “The Need for Primary Care Medical Homes for Children in Foster Care” by Lawson and Brandes.
In this paper, the authors review how children and adolescents in foster care placement have a higher rate of medical issues prior to system entry, maintain increased risk within the system, and develop poor health outcomes after transition. It is imperative to determine a coordinated care model to deliver timely and appropriate physical and mental health care to these children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in their technical report on health care issues for children and adolescents in foster care, point to integrated models of care including both physical and mental health via a medical home model as a promising way to fulfill the health care needs of this vulnerable population.
One example of quality coordinated care for children in Texas is the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence. Look for more discussion from Upbring and our partners in the future on how models like these can help address health needs in Central Texas.
Upbring is always in need of excellent, qualified foster parents, particularly for PMN children. For those who might consider this commitment, but worry about the challenges of caring for children with special medical needs, we will be there for you! To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit Upbring.org.