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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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.