Children in out-of-home care are at high risk of somatic, dental and mental ill health

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Abstract

Aim

The Swedish Social Board has implemented a support strategy to guide out-of-home care for children, which translates as children's needs in focus (CNIF) and includes a systematic health assessment. It was fully introduced into the Skåne province in 2012 and our study covered the first four years of the CNIF health assessments, from 2012 to 2015.

Methods

We studied children aged 0–17 years in out-of-home care who had been referred by social workers for a CNIF health assessment, using their medical records to investigate both their health and the value of the health assessments.

Result

From 2012 to 2015, only 409 (6%) of the 11 413 children in out-of-home care were referred for health assessments. Their health issues included depression and anxiety (29%), poor dental health (30%), seeking medical care for traumatic injuries (36%), previous contact with child psychiatry services (38%) and missed medical appointments (36%), dental appointments (36%) and child health programme appointments (39%). In addition, 10% of the girls and 9% of the boys were obese.

Conclusion

This study found high levels of wide-ranging health issues. Despite national Swedish guidelines and policies, only 6% of the children in out-of-home care were referred by social workers for a CNIF health assessment.

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