Foster Care Health & Mental Health Programs

Information and resources from the Foster Care Health Program (FCHP), with a commitment to meeting the health care needs of children in out-of-home care.

The Foster Care Health Program (FCHP) is committed to meeting the health care needs of children in out-of-home care. Children in DCYF placement will receive the ongoing care they need to achieve and maintain optimal physical, emotional and developmental health through healthcare coordination and consultation.

In addition to health care support, every child placed in first time foster care, relative care or in a general group home receives a Mental Health Assessment from an experienced children's clinician at the local Community Mental Health Center within 30 days of removal from home. This assists DCYF with early identification of mental health needs and facilitates timely mental health treatment interventions. This process provides the new caretaker(s) with critical information regarding the most appropriate methods to use to support this particular child in their new placement.


What is the role of the Foster Care Health Program?

Documentation shows children in out-of-home care have a greater need for basic, preventative, primary, and specialized healthcare services. The goal for the Foster Care Health Program is to partner with parents, community health care providers, and the child protection and juvenile justice teams, to ensure children receive consistent and regular health care. DCYF’s policy for children’s health care planning is based on the requirements and established practice standards following recognized pediatric health care authorities and federal, state, and municipal laws, regulations, and policies relating to community and public health nursing and child welfare standards.

What is the Comprehensive Health Assessment?

Each child receives a Comprehensive Health Assessment within one month following placement, for children age two and older and within 48 hours for children under the age of two. Because health is not only the absence of disease but a sense of physical, social and emotional well-being, the child's overall functioning is considered at the assessment. The assessment includes: 

  • a complete physical exam, including any necessary immunizations;
  • A comprehenisve list of current medications and medication history
  • screening for vision, hearing, and lead poisoning;
  • intensive screening for behavioral and emotional  concerns, and  cognitive and developmental delays;
  • referrals for preventive dental care and treatment

Who Provides Medical Care for Children in placement?

Comprehensive health services are provided by community health care providers. Whenever possible, a child in out-of-home placement remains with the family's own medical provider. Extra efforts are made to keep the same medical provider to allow continuity of care for the child's benefit. Referrals for specialty services are coordinated with the primary provider.

What is the Role of the Foster Care Health Nurse Consultant?

Nurse Consultants are registered nurses who are responsible for:

  • Providing consultation for DCYF staff, birth and foster parents, and the healthcare community, regarding medical and behavioral concerns affecting children and youth involved with DCYF through assessment, in-home cases, and placement
  • Coordinating healthcare treatment as identified by each child’s health care providers, including maintenance of the child’s health information. Identify community healthcare providers and support services as needed.
  • Monitoring and oversight of psychotropic medications prescribed for children and youth in out-of-home placement
  • Coordinating the consent process for recommended surgeries and procedures requiring anesthesia and sedation for children
  • Collaborating with the NH Medicaid Care Management Insurance companies to ensure children receive medically necessary healthcare 

What is the Role of the Parent?

Each parent’s role is to:

  • Actively participate in attending appointments, discussing treatment options, and making decisions regarding their child’s health care needs. 
  • Provide all past and current health history, including any pertinent family history, names of health care providers, current medications, medical equipment or supplies, and any upcoming scheduled appointments.
  • Sign the Medical Authorization and a Release of Information.

What is the Role of the Foster Parent?

Each foster parent’s role is to: 

  • Coordinate and attend all health care appointments to meet the needs for the child in their care
  • Collaborate with the parent and DCYF team to ensure health care needs are identified and addressed
  • Provide updates on medical visits and immunizations to the Foster Care Health Nurse Consultant (FCHNC) and the Child Protection Service Worker (CPSW)
  • Receive training on available program services and stay current on related health topics