Do you want to become a foster parent and want to know more about the types of children needing care? Learn about medically fragile foster care and get lots of tips for foster parents here.
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When we first decided to foster to adopt, we never planned to foster or adopt a medically needy child. Our plans were for a healthy baby. After our first two private adoptions without an agency, we fostered and adopted one child before we met our daughter Phoebe who had complex medical needs. Her first three years with us were the most difficult of our lives, but also the most beautiful.
What does medically fragile mean?
A medically fragile condition is defined as a chronic physical condition which results in a prolonged dependency on medical care for which daily skilled nursing intervention is medically necessary.
What is medically fragile foster care?
Foster children who have complex medical conditions are placed in foster homes with caregivers who have received additional training to be able to provide life-sustaining medications, treatments, equipment, accompaniment to multiple appointments,and assistance with daily living activities.
What additional training is required to care for a medically fragile child?
Parents who want to foster a child who is medically fragile often have to complete additional training hours in medication administration.
Are foster parents of medically fragile children required to have a medical background?
Foster families for medically fragile children are not required to have medical backgrounds. They are however required to complete specialized training to care for medically complex children. However, families or individuals in health-care occupations may find themselves particularly suited to this type of foster care.
Examples of these services include medication management, nutrition, hygiene and personal care, and developmental education.
Do you get paid more to foster medically fragile children?
Regular foster care board rates are assigned by each state and are usually set on a per day basis and based on the age of the child. Many states also have special circumstances board rates. Special circumstances rates apply to a child that has a diagnosed medical/mental health condition or developmental delay that substantially limits a major life activity—one that requires a level of supervision exceeding that of their peers and one that also requires extra care due to physical, emotional, or mental disability.
What resources are available to help care for medically fragile children?
Most agencies will provide additional help with transportation, additional respite and other additional assistance that may be necessary to meet the needs of a medically fragile child.
What is different about fostering a medically fragile child?
Yes! Fostering medically fragile children is quite different from regular foster care. Here are a few things to consider before fostering a medically fragile child:
Medically fragile children have more appointments.
Medically fragile foster children have many more appointments than healthy foster kids. Healthy children often need a few appointments when they first come into foster care. These usually include a check up with a pediatrician, dental visits, and sometimes a visit to an optometrist for glasses or to assess other vision needs. Children with complex medical needs will have those same appointments plus appointments for:
- Therapy including; occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy and physical therapy.
- Equipment Evaluations for things like positioning chairs, mobility devices, and specialized vests and other therapeutic clothing.
- Medical specialty appointments beyond the basic medical care. (My daughters still see a list of nine specialists.)
What kind of room do I need for a medically fragile child?
Fostering a medically fragile child does usually require more space. Children with special medical needs often require additional equipment and supplies. Though the foster care bedroom requirements do not necessarily change for these children, a designated room is often necessary. Some additional equipment and supplies for these children may include:
- IV poles
- feeding pumps
- suction machines
- monitors such as a pulse oximeter, heart rate monitor, blood pressure monitor
- positioning chairs and equiment
- hospital beds
- medical supplies
What kind of supplies do medically fragile children need?
Storage of medical supplies is a huge consideration in a home. Medically fragile and complex children have a variety of supplies that are delivered in bulk, usually on a monthly basis. To learn more about storage of these supplies read this post. To discover ways to save space in a foster care bedroom read this post.
Being a foster parent for a medically fragile is challenging.
The most significant way fostering a medically fragile child is different is the stress level. These children need constant care above and beyond that of children their same age. They can be doing well one minute and for no reason be in a life or death struggle with illness the next. This level of stress takes its toll on foster parents. For this reason it is important that foster parents of medically fragile children do the following:
- Utilize respite, whether provided by the foster care agency or family and friends who are trained.
- Pay attention to your own needs.
- Get rest
- Communicate your feelings and get counseling if necessary.