Tacoma, WA – Community Health Care’s Foster Adoption Clinic has been designated as a Foster Care Center of Excellence by Coordinated Care, the managed care provider for the Apple Health Foster Care program. The clinic received this accreditation due to its exemplary processes and medical services that provide specialized care for children in the child welfare system.
Centers of Excellence are recognized as multidisciplinary medical centers where youth in the child welfare system receive coordinated healthcare services. To qualify as a Center of Excellence, a healthcare provider must meet more than 50 criteria proving its ability to provide a higher standard of care and access to resources for children who suffer from trauma. The clinic staff also conducts annual staff training in trauma-informed care.
“The nature of foster care and adoption is that broken relationships got you to this place, so we focus on resiliency and building relationships to help give patients a healthy future,” said Desiree White, ARNP and director of the Foster Adoption Clinic. “There is this common thread of trauma that ties the foster and adoption families together, and by acknowledging that thread we can care for whole family in a unique way.”
Community Health Care’s roots were planted in 1969, when local doctors & community members recognized the need for Pierce county’s most underserved populations to access quality, affordable, compassionate healthcare. The heart of CHC’s mission recognizes that families and children touched by foster/kinship care and adoption have often been overlooked as a group that needs better access to specialized healthcare. Thus, the Foster Adoption Clinic was born in October 2020 in one of CHC’s original clinic locations at the Hilltop Regional Health Center in Tacoma. To this day, CHC operates five medical and behavioral health clinics, four dental clinics, and five pharmacies throughout Pierce County, and among those clinics cared for 45,385 patients in 2020.
As a Center of Excellence, Community Health Care’s Foster Adoption Clinic will be an entry point for healthcare for the entire family touched by foster care, kinship care and adoption, providing:
Initial Health Exams within 72 hours
Early and periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment within 30 days of entering care
Behavioral health services
Referrals to specialists
Assistance with securing medical equipment
Prescriptions, Lab tests and x-rays
By collaborating with more than 30 community partners and state-level child welfare agencies in Pierce, King and surrounding counties, the clinic has been able to reach traditionally underserved populations that have touchpoints in the child welfare system, such as homeless youth and those in group homes, unaccompanied minors, pregnant teens in foster care, and foster alumni who have “aged out” of the system.
“The community is really rallying around these caregivers and forming a safety net,” said Nathan LaChine, Founder of Evergreen Caregiver Support. “This clinic is becoming a community cornerstone in that way, and the partnerships being formed reflect a holistic approach to care for the kids and families. Seeing the synergy that is starting to develop in the community around this clinic is amazing. It goes back to the grassroots of the community supporting itself and coming together to make things better.”
Centers of Excellence can also refer youth to Coordinated Care for additional support. In 2016, the Washington State Health Care Authority named Coordinated Care as the sole health plan responsible for managing the healthcare of the state’s approximately 24,000 youth involved in the child welfare system including foster care, adoption support and alumni of foster care.
“Coordinated Care is pleased to recognize Community Health Care’s Foster Adoption Clinic as a Center of Excellence,” said Beth Johnson, President and CEO of Coordinated Care. “They are setting the bar high for what a trauma informed approach looks like in healthcare. We are excited to see how their innovative approaches like utilizing a family room help youth and families involved with child welfare thrive.”
Community Health Care’s Foster Adoption Clinic even goes so far as to have a sensory sensitive, trauma-minimizing, and non-clinical exam space that puts patients at ease. Since January of 2021, the clinic has seen a 280% increase in visits because patients feel comfortable coming back for regular visits.
“If having as many services as possible under one roof with a team that speaks the unique language of trauma in foster adoption care allows one more child or family to be successful, then we have done our jobs,” said White.
“Congratulations to Community Health Care Foster/Adoption Care Clinic on its designation as Foster Care Center of Excellence! Since its inception, the clinic has been an invaluable child welfare partner for timely permanence and wellbeing for children served by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in Region 5,” said Joel Odimba, Regional Administrator for Region 5 (Kitsap and Pierce County).
“Serving as a one-stop provider for assessment and services, the clinic provides medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and lab services. This client-centered, least-restrictive approach ensures that our children, families, and caregivers do not need to travel to multiple sites to access needed care.”
Community Health Care is a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center serving patients across Pierce County. No one is ever turned away for inability to pay. For more information about Community Health Care visit our website at www.commhealth.org. To make an appointment, call (253) 722-1771.
Article courtesy of Matt Driscoll and the Tacoma News Tribune