The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 271–285

Help-seeking steps and service use for children in foster care

  • Bonnie T. Zima
  • Regina Bussing
  • Xiaowei Yang
  • Thomas R. Belin

DOI: 10.1007/BF02291739

Cite this article as:
Zima, B.T., Bussing, R., Yang, X. et al. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research (2000) 27: 271. doi:10.1007/BF02291739


This study describes help-seeking steps and service-use patterns for school-age children in foster care. It also examines how these access indices are moderated by sociodemographic, enabling, and child disorder factors. Two home interviews and a telephone teacher interview were conducted using a sample of 302 randomly selected children (age 6–12 years) in foster care. The majority of children (80%) were given a psychiatric diagnosis, and 43% of the foster parents perceived a need for mental health services for the child. In the past year, about one-half of the children had received mental health (51%) and special education services (52%). Age and ethnicity, foster parent education, placement history, level of monthly benefits, number of caseworker visits, and disorder characteristics were related to help-seeking steps and mental health service use. Strategies to improve access to mental health services for children in foster care should include interventions at the caregiver and system levels.

Copyright information

© Association of Behavioral Healthcare Management 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie T. Zima
    • 1
  • Regina Bussing
    • 2
  • Xiaowei Yang
    • 3
  • Thomas R. Belin
    • 4
  1. 1.UCLA Health Services Research CenterLos Angeles
  2. 2.the Departments of Psychiatry and Health Policy and Epidemiologythe University of FloridaUSA
  3. 3.the Department of Biostatisticsthe UCLA Health Services Research CenterUSA
  4. 4.the Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science and Biostatisticsthe UCLA Health Services Research CenterUSA