Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Healthcare for Transitional Foster Care Youth

Every year, 26,000 youth emancipate from foster care on their 18th birthday - many of whom immediately lose vital medical coverage as a result.

At this point, only 32 states extend Medicaid coverage to foster care youth beyond age 18.

Even when states do extend Medicaid coverage for foster care youth until age 21, actually being able to access that coverage has been a major challenge for many transitional foster care youth. In Ohio, for example, many transitional foster care youth have waited months to receive their card, only to then have their Medicaid services dropped prematurely.

The National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators has authored 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.

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, in order to ensure that each child receives regular and comprehensive care, access to services beyond his or her 18th birthday, and a medical passport.

InsureKidsNow.gov, a website that offers State-specific information on health insurance coverage for children through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, now offers an online toolkit for professionals.

The National Children's Healthcare Toolkit, designed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contains a variety of information, materials, tools, and tactics to assist in education and outreach efforts.

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