April 21, 2012
Tammi Mooshegian

SLU Hosts Forum on Missouri Foster-Care System

Attendees of "The Open Forum: Children in Foster Care" watch a presentation during the event.
Candace Shively, head of Missouri's Children's Division, presents statistics and information about the Missouri foster-care system. Photo courtesy of Stacy Valedon.

The School of Medicine and the School of Social Work, in conjunction with the SLU Department of Pediatrics and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, hosted "The Open Forum: Children in Foster Care" Friday, April 13. The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and St. Louis Children's Hospital also sponsored the event.

Missouri Supreme Court Justice, Patricia Breckenridge, J.D., Missouri senators Tom Dempsey and Joseph Keaveny and Missouri Representative Karla May were among the forum's 50 attendees.

Candace Shively, head of Missouri's Children's Division, opened the forum with a presentation on the background of children and youth in Missouri with statistics relevant to the St. Louis area.

As of Dec. 31, 2010, there were 10,174 children in the custody of the Children's Division, and 3,427 of youth placed in the foster care system lived in the homes of a relative or kinship providers. The average age of children in foster care is just less than 10 years, and their average stay in alternative care is more than 24 months. There are 2,795 licensed foster homes across the state of Missouri and another 2,004 licensed relative and kinship homes. 

Sarah Garwood, M.D., presented information on AAP support and guidelines for pediatricians working with children and youth in foster care, which was followed by a panel discussion. The panel was made up of a court appointed special advocate, a foster care parent and a youth who was formerly part of the foster care system.

Interaction with the faculty, the panel and the attendees proved useful in delving into the good, the bad and the shortfalls of the foster care system. It is hopeful that forums such as this will help with improvements to the system that will benefit the children and youth in the Missouri Foster Care system.

The CME Program at SLU would like to thank Mark Eddy, M.D., associate professor in pediatrics, for course directing this activity. His attention to detail helped make it an educational success.

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