Foster Care for Medically Fragile Children

Foster a Medically Fragile Child
The Medically Fragile Unit was developed in 1988 in response to the complex needs of children and their families infected and/or affected by the HIV virus in Wayne County. Additionally, services were developed to meet the needs of other medically fragile children, especially those who are "technologically dependent."

Foster families are needed for those children. Although the children may in some cases have shortened life spans, your love and support can make a difference.

HIV-Infected Children
The majority of children born to HIV positive mothers will test positive for HIV at birth. However, most of these infants are not infected with HIV. The uninfected infants will stop testing HIV positive by eighteen months of age.

Placement in foster care may be necessary for HIV-infected children and their non-infected siblings. The foster care reimbursement rate is negotiated for each child individually. The amount is based on the medically prescribed activities required of the foster parents to care for the child.

Technologically-Dependent Children
Some children are born with medical conditions that require intensive, specialized care. For example, some children with bronchio pulmonary dysplasia may require oxygen support and breathing machines. Some of these children may have respite nursing on a daily basis until their lungs are more developed. The anticipation is that the child will outgrow the condition.
Special Considerations
A foster parent who is the primary caretaker for a medically fragile child may need special extended family or other "back-up" support. Prospective foster parents should discuss their feelings about an HIV-infected child as a member of the household with their families. The frequent contact with medical personnel and frequent medical appointments may also restrict activities.


The AIDS virus is found in blood, saliva, breast milk, semen and tears. It is transmitted from an infected person to another through sexual contact or exposure to blood and blood products. There is no evidence that it is transmitted through casual contact, such as living in the same house, children playing together, etc. However, there are some precautions you can take to decrease the chance of possible transmission.


  • Keep the house as clean as possible.
  • Do not feed your child with your fingers or hands and do not allow other children or adults to do this either.
  • Dishes should be washed in hot soapy water.
  • Tooth brushes and towels should not be shared.
  • Wash your hands before and after changing diapers.
  • Disposable diapers should be placed in a plastic bag and the bag tied securely.
  • Furniture and surfaces in the home where blood has spilled should be cleaned with a week solution of household bleach using one(1) cup per gallon of water.  Wear household cleaning gloves made of latex or rubber when you are cleaning the soiled areas.


There is no drug available to kill or destroy HIV.  Research is being done to find such a drug.  The medicines given to HIV-infected children are to treat the symptoms of the disease and fall into four groups.
  • Antibiotics and antifungals to control infections.
  • Vitamins and iron to treat anemia.
  • Muscle relaxants to relieve muscle stiffness.
  • Gamma globulin to strengthen the immune system and help prevent bacterial infections. It is given intravenously on a regular basis usually in a hospital or out-patient clinic.

For More Information Contact (313) 396-KIDS