What It’s Like to Have a Chronic Illness in the Foster Care System

Worldwide, an estimated 51% of people suffer from a chronic illness, for those in foster care, that percentage only increases. About 70-92% of youth in the foster system are diagnosed with a chronic illness, and 25% of them are diagnosed with three or more illnesses.

Ranging from heart disease and cancer to anxiety and depression, a chronic illness, or a chronic disease, is any condition that lasts one or more years and requires ongoing medical attention or limits activities of daily living. These illnesses can affect a person’s physical, social, and emotional development, causing extreme physical pain, making it difficult for them to maintain relationships, or even causing them to not perform well in a job. 

While these diseases affect all people differently, the negative impacts reach a crucial level when that person is a youth in the foster care system. Without the right resources or a solid support system, it becomes difficult for the youth to schedule doctors’ appointments or make arrangements to attend these appointments. 

When youth are unable to manage their illnesses, it can become detrimental to their health. Foster youth are also subjected to increased emotional stress, leading to the different severity of these illnesses. Charlie (name changed for privacy) knows firsthand what life like this is like.

Charlie has dealt with seizures from an ongoing medical condition his whole life. Because of this, it was challenging to find a foster home that could adequately cater to his medical needs. This issue led to Charlie constantly being moved between many different group homes and temporary foster families between the ages of 10 and 20. 

After joining I Pour Life, Charlie started working with his LifeCoach to gain an increased sense of independence and responsibility. Charlie learned how to schedule his own doctor’s appointments and take charge of his future. Now, Charlie is thriving physically, and he is even set to move out on his own this month! 

Charlie is a great example of how a strong support system, paired with a person’s determination, can launch them into increased physical and mental health. 

As a community, we need to make sure that we are supporting these youth in any way that we can. By being there for them, and providing a community-based support system, we can help impact the health and wellness of foster youth. 

You can directly support youth like Charlie, by giving here.