We are delighted to bring you this guest blog today from Healthy Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Medicaid managed care plan. Healthy Blue is the Network Sponsor of 2022 Kids.
Since the pandemic began, North Carolina families have faced unprecedented stress. When a family suffers, the experience is traumatic for everyone. A household’s difficulty handling strife can escalate, sometimes leading to allegations of abuse and neglect.
The good news is that a household crisis doesn’t have to spell the “end” for a family. With the right approach to intervention and treatment for both child and caregivers, we can spark a new beginning.
More than ever, families need investments in proven tools like Family Centered Treatment (FCT) to prevent removal of a child or to promote family reunification following out-of-home placements.
Even before COVID-19, North Carolina’s foster care system was experiencing record levels of need. The pandemic has stirred emotional, psychological and economic turmoil, driving a sharp rise in substance use. Record numbers of opioid deaths have left families destabilized, leading to a surge in children and youth entering foster care systems across the nation.
These data highlight an urgent need to interrupt the cycle of household trauma. But steps in the right direction are being made every day. For example, Thompson Child & Family Focus recently pushed to address these challenges in Cumberland County. Like most places, the need for evidence-based resources to help families through substance use, trauma and mental health disorders has exceeded the county’s capacity. In collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Medicaid program, Healthy Blue, Thompson is helping behavioral health providers offer more FCT options throughout Cumberland County.
FCT prioritizes family preservation and reunification, with child safety and well-being always the top priority. Treatment and support services unfold in the client’s home and community. This home-based approach reduces the need for out-of-home placements, which can be ineffective and are always traumatic.
North Carolinians value keeping families whole whenever possible. That’s why community leaders, health experts and other stakeholders should seriously explore expanding FCT options across the state.
- 98% of families who complete FCT maintain family placement or reunify.
- 91% of families who engage with FCT continue positive progress towards treatment goals.
- More than 90% of families referred to FCT have fully engaged in the service, which is a key first step in providing support to children and caregivers.
The long-range costs of adverse childhood experiences add up. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans spend $748 billion annually on illnesses related to childhood trauma. This doesn’t include costs related to productivity loss, special education, child welfare and criminal justice. FCT can be a powerful tool minimizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences and disrupting the generational patterns of trauma.
Investments in FCT programs can help families address behavioral health issues before they escalate into crises. Behavioral health challenges shouldn’t fracture a family, and no family should face them alone. Interventions can keep families together – or help them reunite.
Healthy Blue is the Network Sponsor of 2022 Kids, happening March 29-30. Learn more and register for 2022 Kids here.