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The Department of Health Services and the Department of Children and Families partnered to implement Care4Kids, an innovative program designed to offer comprehensive and coordinated health services for children and youth in foster care. The program launched January 1, 2014, in the following six southeastern Wisconsin counties: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha.
The Care4Kids program creates a "medical home" team for children in foster care, assuring that children receive individualized treatment plans in order to address their specific health care needs, including trauma related care. As a result, children in community settings are expected to have improved physical and mental health, improved resiliency and shorter stays in out-of-home care. These positive outcomes will also result in long-term savings in publicly funded programs.
A "medical home" is a concept, not a place. The concept was originally developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Today, a "medical home" means that each child has a team that coordinates care to meet a child's needs. These needs can be medical in nature, but also include community-based supports and services. The "medical home" seeks to promote a partnership focused on meeting the child's needs. The partnership is between team members and the child, and child's family, to assure the best possible outcomes.
The Care4Kids program serves approximately 3,000 children, which is about half of the children in foster care in Wisconsin.
Program Goals in Care4Kids
Integrated and Comprehensive Health Service Delivery. The Care4Kids program delivers coordinated, comprehensive health care including physical, behavioral and oral health care that is tailored to each child's individualized needs.
Timely Access. The Care4Kids program provides timely access to a full range of developmentally appropriate services. The needs of the individual child are assessed during an initial health screening, which occurs within two business days of the child entering out-of-home care. This is followed by a comprehensive health assessment within 30 days of enrollment. Children receive well-child check-ups at the frequency recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. All other medical, behavioral, mental health, and oral health needs of the child will be met in an effective and timely manner.
High Quality and Flexibility of Care. The Care4Kids program coordinates, organizes, and facilitates care in order to deliver services in an effective and efficient manner. The Care4Kids providers are expected to utilize trauma-informed and evidence-informed practices.
Transitional Planning and Cross-System Coordination. Children in out-of-home care also receive transitional planning and follow-up services necessary to assure continuity of health care after achieving permanency or aging out of foster care. The Care4Kids program coordinates with other systems providing health and developmental services to the child, including the local school system, the county-administered Birth to 3 program, Children's Long-Term Support services, and county-funded mental health services.
Well-Being Outcomes. The Care4Kids program will support children to have better health, improved behavior and mental health, an increase in positive permanency outcomes, and enhanced resiliency.