As a result of their experiences, children in foster care are more likely than other children to have physical health problems.
The continuing health care needs of looked-after children may be overlooked. When they are in foster care, children nearly always receive treatment for acute health needs but chronic health problems and dental care may be neglected.
- Ask yourself if you, the foster carers, or a health colleague, have talked with the child about their health, including their dental health, and problems that may have been worrying them for some time. Remember that they may need extra encouragement and support to be able to discuss personal matters and express preferences and worries.
- Ask yourself how you can ensure that children, who may be apprehensive, can be encouraged and supported to have health checks.
- Children who may be apprehensive should be encouraged and supported to have checks with a health professional.
- Remember to ensure that all relevant information about the child’s previous and current health is collected and recorded and shared with the child, family and foster carers as appropriate.
- Ask yourself and health colleagues if the child is receiving treatment from the dentist and for chronic health conditions and ensure that a consultant and second opinions have been sought where necessary.
- Consider ways in which you and your team can seek advice and make and maintain links with relevant health professionals in your area.
- Make sure that you listen to foster carers’ observations about children’s health.
Looked-after children are more likely than other children to have been physically abused, injured and neglected. Often they have lived at many homes before being looked after and, as a result, they may not have received continuity of health care. They are more likely to have physical health problems than their peers and there is often nobody who has an overview of their health needs or history. Whilst they are nearly always treated for acute illness, chronic illnesses and dental care may be neglected (33).
A significant minority of looked-after children have a physical disability and a sizeable proportion, about a quarter, have a learning disability, in a minority of cases a serious one (17), (34), (35).