PART I: The role of public health nursing in addressing health care needs of children in foster care

Rebecca Carabez & Jung Eun Kim - Public Health Nursing


Aims and Objectives

The purpose of this study was to describe the role of Public Health Nurses (PHN) addressing the needs of children and adolescents in foster care.


Children in foster care have more physical, mental, dental, developmental health problems than the general pediatric population. National data indicate that between 30%‐80% of children come into foster care with at least one physical health problem.


An online survey was developed to describe PHN day‐to day activities, PHN funding, case load and case management responsibilities.


Thirty‐nine PHNs completed the survey (72% response rate).


Nurses described the most important needs as being mental and emotional health services, self‐esteem/self‐worth and dental care. Care coordination, case management and monitoring/oversight of psychotropic medications were the top responsibilities.


The study demonstrated that public health nursing expertise is an essential part of the child welfare team in addressing medical, dental, mental and developmental needs of children in foster care.

Relevance to Clinical Practice

There is an expanding role of Public Health Nurses in non‐health care settings to intervene at the system level of the Intervention Wheel that includes policy development and enforcement, community organizing, and coalition building.