Nearly half the children in foster care have what are called Special Health Care Needs as compared to 20% in society at large. Special Health Care Needs is defined by the CDC as physical, intellectual, developmental and chronic medical conditions, which includes Down syndrome, autism and other complex medical and behavioral needs.
Additionally, by virtue of entering the foster care system, children in care have experienced the disruption of their lives – who they live with and who cares for them. This disruption can compound the challenges for children who have additional needs, some visible and some hidden.
Let It Be Us is launching the Special Families Program to ensure homes for children in care with physical and intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome and autism, as well as for children who are in need of assessment to understand their challenges in order to better support and treat them.
Let It Be Us wants to ensure that all children in care get the love and support they need to thrive. To do that, we are recruiting foster parents with an interest in children with special needs, helping caseworkers find the right home for children with specific challenges and providing support to ensure children and families thrive.
This program is funded in large part by the Foglia Family Foundation.
National research shows that children who age out of the foster care system without a robust support system are much more likely to become homeless and much less likely to continue schooling. According to research by the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, 45% of the girls will become pregnant by the age of 19 and a large percentage of the boys will be imprisoned. Only 37% of the young people in Illinois foster care obtain a high school degree. Across the country, that statistic is 50%. And overall just 3% get to college. These young people also earn less than half of their peers as young adults, making a successful launch into adulthood nearly impossible.
Let It Be Us knows that many children with special needs are waiting for homes, sometimes permanent homes. Let It Be Us’ Placement Support program helps find homes for these children, and many others. Caseworkers or others managing cases of children with special needs should fill out this form if you need help finding a home for a child with special needs.
Are you interested in helping children thrive, in spite of (or because of!) their special needs! The challenges may be different than those of other children, but no less worth the effort. We encourage licensed foster homes to join our registry to participate in the Special Families program.
- Are you a licensed foster parent in Illinois? If not, attend one of our webinars or speak to a coach!
- If you are a licensed foster parent in Illinois, and you are interested in supporting young people, then sign up to be included in our registry.
- Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you are the first to hear about young people in Illinois needing a support system.
Let It Be Us understands that one of the main barriers to caring for a child with special needs is access to services. Our dedicated Program Coordinator, Kendra Wright, is here to help connect families with the resources they need and walk alongside you as you care for our most vulnerable children.