The purpose of this study was to compare the utilization of primary care services and presence of mental health disorder diagnoses among children in foster care to children on Medicaid not in foster care in a large health system. The data for this study were analyzed from a clinical database of a multipractice pediatric health system in Houston, Texas. The sample included more than 95 000 children covered by Medicaid who had at least one primary care visit during the 2-year study period. The results of the study demonstrated that children not in foster care had a greater number of primary care visits and the odds of having >3 visits were significantly lower for children in foster care with a mental health disorder diagnosis. Additionally, more than a quarter of children in foster care had a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, compared with 15% of children not in foster care.
Keywords: ADHD; cognitive/learning disorders; developmental disorders; foster care; impulse control; mental health disorder; mood disorders; primary care utilization.