care—may be the least likely to be willing to speak at a public community forum hosted by the National Academies. At the same time, hearing the accounts of adolescents who have themselves experienced the kinds of disadvantage that seriously compromise health care, though anecdotal, was essential to the committee’s goals.
Fortunately, the committee was able to identify several young people, as well as some adults who work directly with disadvantaged adolescents, who provided thoughtful and compelling descriptions of what they have experienced and observed. Their observations provided insights into complex issues that the committee could pursue.
Matthew Morton, who at the age of 22 is the vice chair of the National Council on Youth Policy of the National Network for Youth, described for the audience the most pressing issues he sees facing three groups of adolescents: those in foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and those who have run away from home or are homeless. His views on the needs of these young people have been shaped by his own childhood, during which he was orphaned and cared for, as he explained, “in a home marked by alcoholism, cocaine addiction, neglect, and occasional police visits.” Shawn Denise Semelsberger, who spent many years in foster care and serves on the board of directors of a crisis intervention center, followed up on Morton’s presentation with her observations about issues that affect adolescents in foster care. Paul Fogle, a college senior who is also a member of the board of the National Youth Leadership Network and has lived with a disability all his life, reflected on particular challenges in providing care for adolescents with disabilities.1
In addition, three adults with many years of experience working with vulnerable people offered their perspectives on providing health care to adolescents who live in the U.S.-Mexico border areas (Salvador Balcorta), unattached or homeless adolescents (Alan Shapiro), and low-income adolescents (Coleen DeFlorimonte). The information provided by these presenters was supplemented by the findings discussed by researchers Abigail English, Robert Garofalo, Kimberly Hoagwood, and Constance Weisner at the research workshop.
In 2005 there were nearly 227,000 adolescents (age 12 and older) residing in foster care (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,