Care4Kids program works to help WI foster children

MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker joined the secretaries of the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Health Services (DHS) on Wednesday, February 5th to officially unveil a joint effort with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin which will improve the delivery of health services for children in foster care and other out-of-home care.

“Children in foster care and out-of-home care, and the families who open their hearts and homes to them, deserve the best that we can give them,” said Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker.  “Since many children in foster care often lack basic health care, or have experienced some level of trauma, this program allows them to get the care they need, in a way that is convenient for the people who care for them.”

The Care4Kids program creates a “medical home team” for children in foster care. A medical home ensures that children receive an individualized treatment plan 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.

Specific goals of Care4Kids include:

    “Many children who enter foster care have experienced traumatic events in their young lives and as a result often have intensive physical, behavioral and mental health needs,” said Eloise Anderson, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. “By immediately assessing their needs with a trauma-informed approach, we have another tool to help break the cycle of harm caused by these adverse experiences.”

    Wisconsin has been working with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the needed federal authority, and received CMS approval in 2012 of its State Plan Amendment. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was chosen through a provider certification process which ensures that the provider is qualified to meet programmatic standards.

    “Care4Kids will allow children in foster care, and out-of-home care, to receive Medicaid services that are well coordinated and that address their unique needs,” said Kitty Rhoades, Secretary of the Department of Health Services. “Each child will have a primary care provider and a team that will create a medical care plan focused on the specific needs of the child, including physical and mental health, as well as dental care.”

    In addition to the certification of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, DCF and DHS have worked collaboratively with county child welfare agencies in southeastern Wisconsin, and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the program.

    "Children's Hospital was very interested in becoming certified to do this work because we know how important it is to the overall health and wellbeing of children in foster care. " said Veronica Gunn, Vice President for Population Health Initiatives at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Medical Director of Children's Hospital-Community Services. "As an integrated health system, we have the opportunity to work with children and families in a wide variety of settings including clinics, the hospital, community settings and private homes. We are fully committed to providing trauma-informed care and evidence-based treatment and believe our work can make a huge difference in the lives of the children we serve."

    Care4Kids began offering services to Foster Children in six southeast Wisconsin counties on January 1, 2014. The counties included are; Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha. The program is expected to serve approximately 2,600 children, which represents about half of the 5,500 children in out-of-home care statewide.

    CLICK HERE for additional information on Care4Kids.