Foster Care

Improving healthcare access and coordination for Children and Youth in Foster Care.

Over 30,000 children currently reside in foster care placement in the 48 counties of the AAP California Chapter 1 region. Advocating for the health needs of children and teens in foster care is something everyone can do; from mentoring a teen to working with state or federal officials to make changes in policy, there are a number of things you can do to advocate on behalf of children and teens in care. Here is why to do it:

  • More than 80% of children and youth in foster care have behavioral, emotional or mental health diagnoses.
  • Foster children occupy more than 40% of the child mental health inpatient beds on any given day.
  • Those leaving foster care are at particularly high risk for having significant chronic medical and or mental health disorders including asthma, obesity, depression, anxiety disorders.
  • Many have experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • AAP designates foster children as meeting criteria of Children with Special Health Care Needs which warrants a medical home care coordination model of services.
  • Recent and current federal and state legislation is freeing up new funding streams to pay for providers to render these services for this population to even help prevent placement in foster care in the first place.
  • We want all pediatricians to be comfortable and competent caring for children and youth in foster care.


Mental Health Committee

The California Chapter 1 Mental Health Committee is composed of pediatricians, mental health practitioners and researchers dedicated to improving both prevention and treatment of mental health issues for children and teens. Our committee members work together to enhance the mental health and behavioral health skills of practicing pediatricians, advocate for improved access and quality of services for behavioral health concerns, and connect pediatricians to available resources relevant to behavioral health issues. Our recent initiatives include putting on two sold-out Pediatric Mental Health Day CME conferences supporting providers in San Jose and Madera and making legislative and regulatory recommendations for California AAP advocacy in the field of mental health access. We are also exploring quality improvement and training initiatives to integrate ACEs screening and screening for other social determinants of health into pediatric practice.

Chair(s): Diane Dooley, MD, MHS, FAAP









Committee on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Renee Wachtel, MD, FAAP


The Committee on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics is composed of AAP Fellows who are subspecialists with expertise in developmental and behavioral pediatrics or neurodevelopmental disabilities and primary care pediatricians. The Committee is dedicated to the optimal care and development of children with disabilities and special health care needs and to the support of their families. Children with special health care needs are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional condition and require health and related services beyond those required by children generally. Committee issues include early intervention, developmental screening, access to developmental and behavioral services, childhood behavior problems, physician education regarding developmental and behavioral screening and referral to resources, medication management of developmental and behaviorally related disorders, biopsychosocial issues, genetic disorders related to impairments in sensory function, development and behavior, and advocacy issues.


Newsletter Articles

  • ADHD Medication Shortages– Renee Wachtel, MD, FAAP, Chair, School Health and Behavioral & Developmental Committees April 2024
  • Waiting Times for Autism Assesment– Renee Wachtel, MD, FAAP, Chair, School Health and Behavioral & Developmental Committees March 2024
  • Developing Concerns- Renee Wachtel, MD, FAAP, Chair, School Health and Behavioral & Developmental Committees March 2024

Take Action

Technical Report and Policy Statements

Healthcare Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care

Find out more

Healthy Foster Care America

Healthy Foster Care America (HFCA) is an initiative of the National AAP and its partners to improve the health and well-being outcomes of children and teens in foster care.

Find out more

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Volunteers

CASA volunteers are appointed by the Judge and act as the “eyes and ears of the court and the voice of the child.” Volunteers advocate by facilitating, investigating, and monitoring areas of need in the life of their assigned child.

Find out more

Trauma Toolbox

A 6-part series designed with the primary care practice in mind on the process of asking families about exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or other traumatic events.

Find out more


The Pediatric Role in the Care of Children in Foster and Kinship Care

Publication on the purposes of foster care, basics of how foster care systems work, physician's role in foster care and more.

Find out more

Book – Fostering Health: Health Care for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care (2nd Edition)

A manual compiled by the AAP Task Force on Health Care for Children in Foster Care on the standards of health care for children and adolescents in foster care, detailed in 10 chapters.

Find out more

Child Welfare Information Gateway

A service providing information on care, resources and frequently asked questions by the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Find out more

Trauma Guide for Pediatricians

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope with Trauma.

Find out more

Foster Care Resource Library

Healthy Foster Care America - resource section

Find out more