foster care

As Drug Use Stresses Foster System, A Program Helps Keep Families Together

Aug 23, 2017
Sholten Singer / Kaiser Health News

After Raven Mosser gave birth six years ago, she woke up to a social worker in her hospital room. Her newborn son had been born exposed to opioids — drugs she had been abusing for years. If she didn’t get clean, she was at risk of losing him.

As Kansas Foster Care System Sets Records, Advocates Call For More Family Services

May 22, 2017
Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: Kansas privatized its foster care system in 1997 after a lawsuit revealed widespread problems. Twenty years later, the number of Kansas children in foster care has shot up — by a third in just the last five years — and lawmakers are debating whether the system once again needs serious changes. 

Michelle Faust/ Side Effects Public Media

Three-year-old Jaime is excited to talk about what he’s learning in school today. “I’m happy!” he declares while showing off a card with a smiley face and the word “happy” at the bottom. Why?  “My mommy loves me!”

Interacting with these feelings cards is part of the curriculum at Jaime’s preschool, a federally-funded Head Start site in Rochester, New York.

Michelle Faust

At 17 years old, Daryl Chatman is more interested in football than he is in health insurance.

The high school athlete turns 18 this summer. His foster parents Brenda and Kent Davis worry about what might happen if he’s injured on the football field. They want to adopt him before his next birthday so he can get on their insurance.

“He’s going to be a part of our family forever no matter what, whether its adoption or not,” says Brenda Davis. “I would really like to make sure he's covered.”

Michelle Faust

“Alright, we’re going to go check those eyes and ears now buddy. Ok?” Nurse Kristen Marrese leads 4-year-old Daniel Atkinson down the hall for an eye exam. It’s part of his routine check-up at a clinic in Rochester, New York, Starlight Pediatrics.

During the visit, which took nearly two hours, Daniel also got up to date on his vaccines and his nurse practitioner gave him a thorough check-up of his growth and development. He’s been coming here since he was an infant.

Michelle Faust

Excited and hungry, three children chant as food is served (“We want potatoes! Potatoes!) and ask what else is for dinner (fish and green beans as it happens). The hubbub continues until Mom cracks down:

“Please! Sit. On your bottom.” The children obey. They continue to buzz as they eat.

Jake Harper/Side Effects

 Last year, Erin and Isaac Hougland of Indianapolis got certified to become foster parents, with the hope of adopting a baby. Just a few weeks later, they got a call.

An 8-week-old baby needed a home. All they knew was that the boy's mother was a heroin addict and had left him at the hospital. They were told that because of the drugs, the baby might require some special care. But mostly, he just needed a place to go.

"Both of us were just like, 'Let's do it,' " says Isaac Hougland. "We wrapped up what we were doing at work and went to the hospital."

New policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics urges doctors to consider the precarious situation of foster children.
D. Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

The job of caring for foster children officially falls to state and county child welfare agencies. But in a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics is asking physicians to take a more active role in ensuring the wellbeing of foster kids in their care.

Efforts to protect children in foster care from being inappropriately medicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs got a big boost forward on Tuesday, when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law designed to reform prescribing.

Overprescribing of psychiatric meds for foster youth is a persistent problem nationwide, with children given the drugs at double or triple the rate of those not in foster care.

California Moves To Stop Misuse Of Psychiatric Meds In Foster Care

Sep 3, 2015

By the time DeAngelo Cortijo was 14, he had been in more than a dozen foster homes. He had run away and lived on the streets for months, and he had been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. He had been in and out of mental hospitals and heavily medicated.

Cortijo, who was born in San Francisco, was taken from his mother after she attempted suicide when he was 3.

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