Fostering Health Program

Each year, around 500,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States. In Philadelphia, more than 6,000 children are in foster, kinship or residential care.

Children in foster care often lack routine healthcare and miss regular immunizations due to frequent changes in placement and medical providers. Many of these children (between 30 and 80 percent) have chronic health conditions, and most have significant behavioral and emotional problems.

To help meet the healthcare needs of these children, the Fostering Health Program (FHP) was created. FHP is an outpatient assessment program led by a multidisciplinary team of specialists at CHOP who work together to assess and provide guidance for the healthcare needs of children in foster care.

What we do

Working closely with foster care families and Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and its Community Umbrella Agencies (CUAs), our goal is to ensure every foster child has access to continuous, coordinated and high-quality care during this crucial period of childhood.

The primary purpose of the Fostering Health Program is to evaluate each child (birth through age 18) when they are placed into foster care. After a careful review of medical records and history and a thorough physical evaluation, our team of experienced providers creates a plan to help inform the child’s care moving forward.

The goal is to provide a comprehensive assessment to identify the child’s medical, behavioral, emotional and developmental needs, and to make sure these needs are being met during the transition to foster care, or a new placement, and beyond. This plan often includes recommended treatments and referrals, supporting the child’s caretaker to follow through with the recommendations, and linkage with a primary care provider as the child’s medical home for ongoing care.

The team’s care plan is shared with the foster child’s primary care provider, Child Protective Services case workers, the foster parent, and when appropriate, the child’s biological parent.

By intervening early and helping to coordinate care at the time of entry into the foster care system or a placement change, the Fostering Health Program aims to:

  • Increase appropriate use of primary care services
  • Reduce preventable hospitalizations and visits to the emergency department
  • Make earlier connections to the services that children can benefit from
  • Achieve more consistent health supervision
  • Aid in the child’s transition into a new living situation

Download our program brochure for a print-friendly handout.

About our team

The members of the Fostering Health Program team are leaders in the field of child healthcare and welfare. Our team includes general pediatricians, child abuse pediatric specialists, nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists and a dedicated social worker.

Our team members are also part of other CHOP programs, including Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health, and the International Adoption Health Program. Their research and expertise in the areas of child maltreatment, foster care, and adoption are nationally recognized.