fulltext - Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 7, No....

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Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1998, pp. 283-296 Mental Health Problems of Children in Foster Care June M. Clausen, Ph.D., 1,6 John Landsverk, Ph.D., 2 William Ganger, MA., 3 David Chadwick, M.D., 4 and Alan Litrownik, Ph.D. 5 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. KEY WORDS: foster care; mental health; behavior problem; assessment. 1 Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA. 2 Professor, School of Social Work, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. 3 Research Associate, Center for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, San Diego, CA. 4 Director Emeritus, Center for Child Protection, Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA. 5 Professor, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. 6 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. 283 1062-1024/98/0900-0283$ 15.00/0 C 1998 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
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284 Clausen, Landsverk, Ganger, Chadwick, and Litrownik Research over the last two decades clearly indicates that children in foster care are very much in need of attention by mental health profes- sionals. Several studies, using clinical assessments (e.g., Benedict, Zuravin, Somerfield, & Brandt, 1996; measures (e.g., Hochstadt, Jaudes, Zimo, & Schachter, 1987; Pilowsky, children entering foster care exhibit a significant number of behavior prob- lems and adaptive functioning deficits, far in excess of that expected in the general population. Two major factors lead one to expect that children in foster care would
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fulltext - Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 7, No....

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