Children and youth in the child welfare system are often also enrolled in Medicaid and constitute a high-need, high-cost population across both systems. They often have a complex array of physical and behavioral health needs, yet their involvement in multiple child-serving systems creates barriers to accessing needed health services due to siloed service delivery systems. Medicaid and child welfare agencies have a shared responsibility to provide children, youth, and their families with needed services in a way that is coordinated and strives to improve overall health and well-being.

Over the past decade, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) has worked intensively on issues related to the effective delivery of physical and behavioral health services for children and youth in the child welfare system, with a focus on those in foster care. In providing training and technical assistance to state agencies and managed care organizations serving this population, CHCS has fostered cross-agency collaboration that serves to strengthen partnerships and align shared outcomes.

Advancing Child Welfare and Medicaid Alignment, a national initiative led by CHCS, with funding from Casey Family Programs, is supporting opportunities for state child welfare agency leaders to:

  • Increase understanding about the health-related needs of the foster care population and innovative strategies to serve children and youth in foster care;
  • Build leadership capacity to achieve goals concerning the health-related needs of children and youth in foster care;
  • Engage stakeholder communities to ensure the voices of partner organizations and/or consumers of services are integrated into policy and program development, as appropriate; and/or
  • Develop and implement an action plan for a system improvement or change initiative to improve outcomes for children and youth in foster care.

CHCS is providing technical assistance to states and jurisdictions across the country that have identified the need for greater collaboration.