Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Governor's Association Report on Foster Care, Transition to Adulthood

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices released a 2010 report on The Transition to Adulthood: How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care, which provides states with strategies for supporting foster youth as they age out of the foster care system and transition to adulthood.

The Table of Outcomes for Foster Youth Compared With Youth in General, on page 4, is a particularly helpful tool for advocacy.

Health Care Needs of Youth "Aging Out" of Foster Care

Did you know that:
  • Each year 26,000 youth emancipate from foster care on their 18th birthday and often lose critical Medicaid health coverage?
  • Former foster youth experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at six times the rate of their peers in the general population, and twice the rate of veterans returning from war?
  • Only 57% of former foster youth have health coverage at ages 23 and 24 --- as compared to 78% percent of their same-age peers without a foster care history?

Beginning January 2014, Medicaid eligibility will be extended to cover children formerly in foster care who are under the age of 26.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Psychotropic Meds for Youth in Foster Care: Who Decides?

Dated January 5, 2011, and authored by the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children, this report makes vital recommendations:

  1. Georgia needs to obtain accurate information about psychotropic medications and youth in foster care, including how many youth of what ages are receiving which medications for what purposes and at what costs.
  2. Georgia needs to develop guidelines for the use of psychotropic medications for youth in foster care.
  3. Georgia needs to develop a clear process for obtaining informed consent for the administration of psychotropic medications to youth in foster care. The process needs to be specific about who has authority to consent for a youth in foster care.
  4. Georgia should develop one or more independent clinical teams that include a board-certified child psychiatrist to provide the following services:
    • individual case consultation to the state agency and prescribers;
    • training for those who work with youth in foster care;
    independent review of all prescriptions for psychotropic medications that are written for youth in foster care before the prescription can be filled.
  5. Youth in foster care should have a comprehensive mental health treatment plan that includes consideration of a variety of interventions and treatments that may include medications.
  6. Georgia needs to establish quality assurance mechanisms to continuously improve all systems serving the mental health needs of youth in foster care and to hold all parts of the systems accountable.
  7. The court system should help raise awareness about psychotropic drugs and youth in foster care.
What I like best about this report is how it describes the level of responsibility that the state has for young people in foster care:

"The state of Georgia has the awesome responsibility
of serving as parent for some 7500 children in foster care."

Serving as a parent implies: Knowing what prescriptions have been prescribed, why they have been prescribed, what the side-effects are, what the long-term treatment plan is -- and not hesitating to advocate if the medication appears to be more harmful than helpful.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Did You Know About This Progress in Florida?

Normalcy for Foster Care Youth
"For many years youth in state care were not able to participate in the same types of activities as their peers. In order to fix that problem, the state is now required to include a “normalcy” component in the case plan.

According to Fla. Admin. Code 65C-30.007(10), youth should be encouraged and supported in taking part in extracurricular activities, obtaining work, attending social events, learning how to drive and doing all the other normal things that youth do.

Preparation for Adulthood
Florida law requires that transition planning begin for youth in state care at age 13 with the adoption of an education or career plan The state is required to conduct a “pre-independent living assessment” for all youth between the ages of 13 and 15.

It should then identify services needed to meet the needs identified in the assessment. The state must then conduct a staffing once a year to ensure that the youth receives the services and training necessary to develop independent living skills. Florida Statute §409.1451(4)(a).

Forging An Education and Career Path
Beginning at age 13, the youth’s case plan must include “an educational and career path” component based on the abilities and interests of each child. Florida Statute §409.1451(3) (b)1.

This path must be incorporated in the case plan and must be reviewed at each judicial hearing. The youth, assisted by foster parents and DCF or the CBC, must chose one of these post-secondary goals:
1. Obtaining a 4-year university degree.
2. Obtaining a 2-year college degree.
3. Obtaining a career/technical certificate.
4. Beginning employment or apprenticeship after completing high school or enlisting in the military.