July 20, 2021


The New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the New York State Department of Health today announced a more comprehensive set of health services to further support children in foster care in New York State. The agencies are working with 75 voluntary foster care agencies (VFCAs) licensed by the Department of Health to provide youth access to a standard set of medical and behavioral health services. This new partnership connects the youth to extensive networks of health care providers, including doctors, dentists, behavioral health care providers, specialists and pharmacies.

Effective July 1, 2021, DOH and OCFS partnered with VFCAs, managed care plans and local departments of social services to increase the capacity and quality of health care for children in foster care by licensing VFCA Health Facilities under Article 29-I of the New York State Public Health Law and transitioning those children placed with VFCAs from Medicaid fee-for-service coverage into Medicaid managed care plans, and adding the 29-I Health Facility services to the Medicaid managed care benefit package. New York State has 15 managed care plans where more than 10,000 youth in foster care have been enrolled.

“This program is all about supporting children in foster care,” said New York State Office of Children & Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “We want to ensure that youth are given every opportunity to live healthy, productive lives, and working with the voluntary foster care agencies in this capacity does just that. We look forward to a long and productive partnership to provide kids the health care they need and deserve.”

Licensed VFCA Health Facilities provide enhanced health care, delivering a standard set of physical and behavioral health care services, in accordance with a comprehensive treatment plan that identifies all health care and service needs for each child. Services are provided by trained staff who are knowledgeable about the needs of children in foster care to help ensure the best possible outcomes for each child.

“We are pleased to partner with OCFS and VFCAs in the commitment to bring more comprehensive and better coordinated care to foster children throughout New York State,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Through enhanced licensing standards and enrollment in Medicaid managed care, children in the care of VFCAs will have access to a comprehensive set of coordinated health and behavioral health services.”

Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David A. Hansell said, “ACS is committed to providing children in foster care with high-quality health care services, and we believe this transition to Medicaid managed care will provide children in foster care improved access to those much-needed services. We thank the Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services for their commitment to high-quality health and behavioral health care services for children in foster care, and we will continue working with them and our foster care providers to implement this initiative.”

Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies President and Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Brady-Stepien said, “We have long advocated for raising the bar when it comes to improving health and behavioral health of children in foster care, and we thank our state government colleagues for their strong partnership in working towards successful implementation of the new article 29-I licensure. Access to high-quality, well-coordinated healthcare provides a strong foundation for children in care, and with this initiative, New York's foster care agencies will be able to build on this foundation so these children will be healthy and resilient adults.”

SCO Family of Services Keith Little President and Chief Executive Officer said, "We are excited to take a giant leap forward to provide integrated services for children and adolescents in our foster care and child welfare programs through our designation as a 29-I Health Facility. Our goals are to provide person-centered care, decrease the barriers that contribute to inequities, support the voice and choices of families and youth to make decisions that align with their values about their health needs and streamline our processes by addressing the social determinants of health, conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.”

Fidelis Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Marchello said, “Serving children across New York State who are in foster care placement is a reflection of the Fidelis Care mission. We understand how important it is for children to receive the highest quality physical and behavioral health care and the services they need from an early age – particularly in underserved communities. Collaborating with community partners, agencies and providers to meet the unique needs and goals of children in foster care is our top priority.”

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