Information for Georgia
Change State

Welcome to Amerigroup

Here you’ll find helpful information and tips to improve your overall health and wellness.

Bridging Gaps: Collaborative Efforts to Improve Behavioral Health Outcomes for Children in Foster Care

By: Dr. Eric Lewkowiez, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Division of Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia.

Throughout my career as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I’ve learned that the only consistent aspect of my job is its inconsistency. Each patient brings with them unique challenges and needs, making my work incredibly rewarding and challenging. This is particularly true for the children in foster care I treat, who often face complex health issues compounded by significant administrative barriers.

Children in foster care often encounter obstacles that can disrupt their continuity of care. Changes in legal guardianship and living arrangements frequently complicate ongoing communication with families, which is crucial for implementing and maintaining successful treatment plans. For example, a patient scheduled to see me might have their placement changed before their appointment, leading to logistical challenges like increased travel distance or lack of transportation, which often results in missed appointments. This pushes these children back onto long waitlists for behavioral health care, needlessly delaying their treatment and medication needs.

Accessing essential records and information for these children, including their treatment histories and trauma evaluations, is another significant administrative hurdle. These documents are vital resources I use to ensure I’m delivering targeted and effective care. Yet they are far too often difficult to obtain, significantly impacting the welfare of these children.

Thankfully, my partnership with Amerigroup Georgia has helped me navigate these administrative barriers. Amerigroup’s extensive network of support provides me the assistance I need, allowing me to focus on direct patient care rather than bureaucratic obstacles. Amerigroup’s team of care coordinators plays an invaluable role in my practice, from updating contact information to coordinating transportation to improve access to care, and resolving various logistical issues that could hinder children in foster care from receiving the care they need.

Misdiagnosis and overmedication are rampant issues in the treatment of children in foster care. Effective treatment requires more than just the extensive training; it takes extensive real-world experience to deliver impactful treatments. It is far too common to encounter cases where children have been incorrectly diagnosed or prescribed an unnecessarily high starting dosage of medication, or even medication they don’t need at all.

I am grateful to partner with Amerigroup on this issue as well. They administer a psychotropic medication program, collaborating with providers to assess prescribing patterns and treatment plans. This cooperative effort ensures that these medications are accurately prescribed – appropriate in both type and dosage – and monitored for overuse, aligning treatments with each child’s specific needs.

A child’s mental health and their overall health are closely connected, and together they significantly impact their academic performance. In my practice, I consider educational achievements and positive school experiences as markers of successful treatment. Education is a powerful equalizer, and my goal is to lay the groundwork for every child to thrive, not only academically but personally as well.

To do that, I must provide optimal care and support to these children, and that requires a highly cooperative approach. We need sustained, robust efforts from all stakeholders and support networks – from health care providers, educators, to managed care organizations like Amerigroup, state partners, advocacy groups, and more. These collaborations are crucial to ensure these children receive the comprehensive care they rightfully deserve. It’s challenging to overcome the hardships many foster care children endure but supporting their mental health and encouraging educational growth offer the best shot at a successful future. When we all come together, pooling our resources, expertise, and collective dedication to these kids, we have the power to make a real difference, paving the way toward fulfilling, healthy, and productive lives for these children.

Privacy | Legal