May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge the 463,000 children and youth nationally in foster care and the family members, foster parents, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals, and policymakers who help them find permanent homes and connections. It is also a time to join forces and renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the over 8,800 Kentucky children in Out of Home Care (OOHC).
Kentucky’s youth in foster care are a vulnerable population who need access to comprehensive health coverage including dental coverage. Youth in foster care and who have aged out of foster care have disproportionately high rates of serious physical, mental, and behavioral health issues and approximately 35% of children and teens enter foster care with significant dental and oral health problems. They are more likely to have health issues that affect their day-to-day functioning and more likely to need psychological and substance use counseling. Many youth formerly in foster care live at or below the poverty line and often experience homelessness within a year of leaving foster care. Young adults who have aged out of foster care cannot afford to purchase health coverage or incur medical debt – they need to have access to quality services to address chronic health issues.
Beginning in 2021, Aetna Better Health of Kentucky became the sole Managed Care Organization (MCO) for the Supporting Kentucky Youth (SKY) program. As the MCO for the SKY program, Aetna serves as the statewide coordinator of physical and behavioral health, dental care, and social services for children and youth in foster care, Medicaid eligible youth in the juvenile justice system, former foster youth under age 26, youth placed with fictive kin, and adoption assistance youth.
Join KOHC in recognizing National Foster Care Awareness Month by following True Up for updates and resources and supporting Kentucky’s foster youth and former foster youth. Learn more about becoming a foster parent and find resources in Kentucky from the Department for Community Based Services at kyfaces.ky.gov.