Each year, thousands of children enter the foster care system needing specialized medical care. They may require medical equipment such as a feeding tube, nebulizer or oxygen. Some have life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, cancer or cystic fibrosis. Others require doctors who can monitor and manage congenital heart defects, gastrointestinal disorder, or seizures. These medically fragile foster children also need loving families.
At the September 2016 California Alliance for Child and Family Services conference, Walden executives Sue Evans and Mary Frame delivered a presentation on the critical role foster family agencies play in matching medically fragile foster children with specially-trained foster and adoptive resource families. The presentation gave other child and family agencies an opportunity to learn how Walden developed its program to support medically fragile foster children.
Supporting Medically Fragile Foster Children
Walden specializes in recruiting and training families to manage children’s health care needs in a family environment. These parents partner closely with Walden social workers and health care providers to coordinate frequent medical visits.
Since 2013, Walden has received more than 200 referrals to place medically fragile children in foster homes. Some of these children eventually return to their birth families. Others remain with or are adopted by their foster families.
Reducing the Burden on Public Systems
Communities also benefit when medically fragile foster children are placed with families rather than in institutions. While these specialized placements receive higher reimbursement rates, placing children in a family home typically costs $85 to $176 per night as opposed to $754 per night in a skilled nursing facility or as much as $3,500 in a hospital.