Research has found that, in addition to the variety of challenges they face, many children in foster care have serious and complex physical and mental health issues – the majority of which are rooted in their history of childhood trauma. Sadly, foster children develop physical health issues at rates higher than the national average (for example, they’re three times as likely to suffer from asthma and two times as likely to experience delayed growth) and are prone to developing emotional and behavioral health issues, which can become exacerbated by unstable foster care placements. Many times, these issues go undiagnosed or untreated before children enter foster care.
Boston CASA’s volunteer advocates help to make up for such a lack of oversight and play a critical role in monitoring the health of children in foster care, as well as coordinating their care. Because they are paired with one child or sibling group at a time, they are better able to observe a change in a condition or behavior and advocate for an adjustment in the child’s care. We recently learned, for example, of a volunteer who observed that her child had developed a slight tremor in his hand – a side effect of his antipsychotic medication that had gone unnoticed by those responsible for his care. We are very glad to report that the child’s treatment regimen is now under review as a result of the volunteer’s observation and advocacy, and are proud to share this story, which demonstrates the important work our volunteers do to help ensure the safety of our community’s most vulnerable children.