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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Apr;149(4):386-92.

Health status of children in foster care. The experience of the Center for the Vulnerable Child.

Author information

1
Center for the Vulnerable Child, Children's Hospital, Oakland, CA, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the health status and to illustrate the usefulness of an enhanced primary care model for children in foster care.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional analysis of a clinical cohort via chart review.

SETTING:

Foster Care Program of the Center for the Vulnerable Child at the Children's Hospital, Oakland, Calif.

SUBJECTS:

Two hundred thirteen children in foster care assessed between August 1988 and June 1991.

INTERVENTIONS:

None.

METHODS:

A multidisciplinary assessment protocol was used to collect health and social histories and to conduct developmental, emotional, and behavioral assessments and medical examinations. Cross-tabulations were used to compare distributions of conditions and characteristics of the population, including the reasons for, timing of, and number of placements.

RESULTS:

The population was largely African-American (83.4%), with a mean age of approximately 3 years. At least 78% of children came from homes where drug use was a primary reason for placement. A history of maternal drug use was present in 94% of infants. The number of placements ranged from one to eight (mean, 2.0). Placement changes were common. Over 20% of children had growth abnormalities, 30% had neurologic abnormalities, and 16% had asthma. Fewer than 20% of children had no medical conditions, while 28.8% had three or more conditions. Over 80% of children had developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Emotional, relational, and behavioral problems were more common in children first placed after 2 years of age and in those with a greater number of placements (chi 2 = 12.6, P < .05).

CONCLUSION:

This comprehensive assessment of children in foster care revealed higher rates of chronic multiple medical and mental health problems than previously reported.

PMID:
7704166
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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