How many times have you heard family members, friends or coworkers say they hate going to the doctor? Medical visits can be upsetting for any of us, and prolonged or invasive medical treatment even more so. But for kids in foster care, medical treatment can be especially distressing.
Children in the child welfare system have more medical and mental health problems than other children. They often change doctors repeatedly due to placement changes or may receive care in Emergency Departments where frightening sights and sounds may scare them. In most cases, children in foster care also lack consistent, nurturing caregivers who will comfort them during medical visits. As if these things weren’t enough, their prior experiences of abuse or neglect make it harder for them to cope with the stress of medical care. For example, children who have been sexually abused may avoid physical exams or experience extreme discomfort, and children who have been abused or neglected may not initially trust adults to keep them safe---even health care providers. Check out one pediatrician’s insights on working with children in foster care.
How do you help children in foster care cope with medical treatment?