Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1998, pp. 283-296
Mental Health Problems
June M. Clausen, Ph.D.,
John Landsverk, Ph.D.,
David Chadwick, M.D.,
and Alan Litrownik, Ph.D.
We compared the rates of mental health problems in children in foster care
across three counties in California. A total of 267 children, ages 0 to 17, were
assessed two to four months after entry into foster care using a behavioral
screening checklist, a measure of self-concept and, in one county, an adaptive
behavior survey. Results confirmed previous research and indicated consistently
high rates of mental health problems across the three counties. Behavior
problems in the clinical or borderline range of the CBCL were observed at
two and a half times the rate expected in a community population. Fewer
children fell within the clinical range on the self-concept measure. No
significant differences in rates between the three county foster care cohorts were
observed, despite the different demographic characteristics of the counties. On
the adaptive behavior scale, the mean scores for children in foster care were
more than one standard deviation below the norm. Our findings suggest that
the most important mental health screening issue with children in foster care
is to identify what specific mental health problems need to be addressed so
that the most effective treatment services can be provided.
foster care; mental health; behavior problem; assessment.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco,
Professor, School of Social Work, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.
Research Associate, Center for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services,
San Diego, CA.
Director Emeritus, Center for Child Protection, Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA.
Professor, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.
Correspondence should be directed to June Madsen Clausen, Department of Psychology,
University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117. Electronic mail
may be sent to ClausenJ@usfca.edu.
1062-1024/98/0900-0283$ 15.00/0 C 1998 Human Sciences Press, Inc.