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Health Care Standards & Recommendations

Greater numbers of infants and young children with increasingly complicated and serious physical, mental health, and developmental problems are being placed in foster care. All children in foster care need to receive initial health screenings and comprehensive assessments including:

  1. Medical health
  2. Mental health
  3. Dental health
  4. Developmental status

Results of these assessments must be included in the court-approved social services plan and should be linked to the provision of individualized comprehensive care that is continuous and part of a medical home. Pediatricians have an important role in all aspects of the foster care system.

For more information, please read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care report on Health Care of Young Children in Foster Care


  • Approximately 424,000 children in the United States and 10,000 children in Massachusetts are in foster care on any given day.
  • Children entering foster care are often in poor health. May factors act as barriers to care for these children.
  • Information received about health care services children have received and their health status before placement is often hard to obtain.
  • Social workers often lack information about the type of health care services have been received
    • Up to one quarter of children placed in foster care experience 3 or more changes in foster homes. Up to 35% of children reenter the foster care system after being returned to their families.

    Components of Health Care Services

    1. Initial health screening
    2. Comprehensive medical and dental assessment
    3. Developmental and mental health evaluation
    4. Ongoing primary care and monitoring of health status
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