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Foster Care Medical Program

Serving Cleveland's Most Vulnerable Children

The MetroHealth Foster Care Team has partnered with the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) since 2013 to provide outstanding medical care to all children in foster care or kinship care. The number of children in county custody has more than doubled since the partnership began. Our specialized team works tirelessly to coordinate care and provide stable, ongoing support for children in foster care.

 

Caring for our foster children during COVID-19

 

Quality Care for Foster Children

All children in Cuyahoga County are required to receive a medical screening exam (triage) before being placed into foster care or changing foster homes. Because these situations can be unpredictable, the team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure the children and teens receive quality care any time of day or night. After the initial exam, our coordination team schedules appropriate, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)-recommended follow-up care for all children in foster care and serves as their medical home. The team can address medical concerns in a variety of ways, including the use of telehealth appointments.

Dedicated Pediatricians and Experts Who Put Children and Teens First

Our dedicated, tight-knit team ensures that a child's health care needs are consistently met—even when their home changes. Children and teens who come to us for care will benefit from a devoted team of professionals who strive to provide the comfort and continuity they need:

  • Our six nurse practitioners (NPs) have more than 28 years of experience offering compassionate care for children.
  • Our registered nurse (RN) care coordinators help patients and their foster families keep track of appointments, referrals and prescription refills and address any new health concerns.
  • Our care navigators ensure foster families receive follow-up appointments and play a vital role in DCFS communication to coordinate care.
  • Our child psychologist and social worker consult with patients during exams and are available for follow-up appointments.
  • Our medical director is trained in pediatrics and internal medicine and advocates for access to quality care for children of all ages.

Pediatrics at MetroHealth Medical Center

As the medical home base for Cuyahoga County's foster children, we are a primary care provider for both well care and childhood illness. That means we offer a number of different types of appointments children and teens might need as they move through the foster system.

Children might meet us for the first time during triage exams for foster placement. These initial exams can address any injuries or illnesses a child might have before they are placed into a new foster care home. The exams also serve as an opportunity to create a plan of care. The team can review a child's medical and social history, immunization schedule, current prescriptions and more.

Then, we follow the standards published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Child Welfare League of America concerning the care of children and teens in foster care. These standards call for the child to see a primary care provider for:

  • Comprehensive medical assessment (including mental health assessment): Within 30 days of placement in a foster home.
  • Follow-up care: 2 to 3 months later or sooner based on age and need.
  • Ongoing care: Monthly until age 6 months, quarterly between ages 6 to 24 months; twice yearly at ages 24 months to 21 years

During physical exams, children receive appropriate immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, developmental behavioral screenings and lab work. We dedicate time to provide guidance and education to foster parents and kinship caregivers about their children’s expected growth and development. Foster parents also are connected with a care coordinator for their children.

We also can help with mental health care. If concerns are identified, our team can refer the child for additional evaluation and services. We can work with a child's case worker, too, to ensure the child has access to resources in the community that might help. A child psychologist is available in the clinic and by appointment. Follow-up appointments are available as needed.

We can help children who are aging out of the foster care system to transition to receiving adult medical care. Our social worker is a vital part of this process to help coordinate primary care, dental care and mental health care as well as services like financial counseling, education and housing.

In our program, children also receive:

  • Medical care, including physicals and sick visits
  • Ongoing medication monitoring
  • Dietary evaluations as needed
  • Access and referrals to other pediatric specialists, including dentistry
  • An assigned nurse care coordinator

Find Out More

Children in foster care are automatically enrolled in our program, so there is nothing you need to do to enroll a child. But if you have a child under your care who is not part of the foster program and you need pediatrics help, we encourage you to visit our Provider Directory to find a professional who can help.

Donate

Children and adolescents often come to foster care with few possessions. In addition to essential, age-appropriate hygiene and feeding items, we also strive to provide clothing, toys and comfort essentials in the form of “Journey Bags,” when available.

To donate any of the following items, or for more information, call 216-778-7452. You can also give to the MetroHealth Foster Care Fund.

Essential items:

  • Socks, underwear and wireless bras
  • Deodorant (men and women)
  • Single toothbrushes (child and adult)
  • Toothpaste (child and adult)
  • Women's body spray
  • Single bars of soap
  • Lotion (men and women)
  • Single hairbrushes and combs
  • Body wash and loofas
  • Baby booties and socks
  • Baby bottles
  • Sippy cups
  • Baby onesies (all sizes)
  • Baby bibs, rattles and teethers
  • Diapers (all sizes) 
  • Book bags

Comfort items: 

  • Hoodies
  • T-shirts
  • Leggings
  • Journals
  • Water bottles
  • Coloring books (for kids and teens) and crayons
  • Nail polish 
  • Makeup
  • Lip gloss
  • Lip balm
  • Barbie dolls
  • Toy cars
  • Baby toys
  • Play dough
  • Books, puzzles
  • Bedding, including pillowcases