General News

Keeping Kids in Foster Care Healthy

Posted on Mar 19, 2018

Alana Koehler, M.D.

The pediatric residents at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital have developed an advocacy project focusing on access to health care. Their campaign focuses on advocating for four different vulnerable populations. Alana Koehler, M.D., a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, joined Rachel Dawkins, M.D., to discuss the needs of children in foster care.

Do kids in foster care receive the same medical care as other children?

Koehler: Children in foster care are considered a vulnerable population because of the numerous barriers that limit their access to medical care. Because many of these children move among homes and caregivers, it can be difficult to maintain continuity of care with a team a doctors who know the patient. This is especially tough when there are no local placements available and the child is moved throughout the state.

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s, we are working on initiatives to improve the continuity of medical care for this group of children.

How many children locally are in foster care?

Dawkins: There are currently more than 5,000 children in the Tampa Bay area in the foster care system. More than 60 percent of these children are under 6 years old. This includes children who are placed in group foster homes as well as those who are placed with a foster family.

Unfortunately, many children move in and out of the foster system, bouncing among caregivers.

What are the resident doctors at Johns Hopkins All Children's doing to address these issues?

Koehler: Recently we hosted our third annual Advocacy Week with the theme "Access 4 Kids" in which we focused on discussing barriers to care for our most vulnerable populations, including children in foster care.

We learned that we need to ensure that all of our patients have a voice, and this is especially true for those in foster care. These children may not always feel that their voices are being heard or that their opinions matter especially in decisions regarding their health. We will continue to work hard to ensure that all of our patients have a voice.

What can our viewers do to help children in foster care?

Dawkins: There is always a need for more loving and dedicated foster parents. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent there is quite a bit of training involved, but it can be very rewarding. Several area organizations can give more information on how to become a foster parent.​

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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