Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 87–103 | Cite as

Behavior Problems, Academic Skill Delays and School Failure Among School-Aged Children in Foster Care: Their Relationship to Placement Characteristics

  • Bonnie T. Zima
  • Regina Bussing
  • Stephanny Freeman
  • Xiaowei Yang
  • Thomas R. Belin
  • Steven R. Forness


We describe the level of behavior problems, academic skill delays, and school failure among school-aged children in foster care. We also examine how behavior problems are associated with academic problems, and explore how these outcomes are related to children's placement characteristics. Foster parent and child home interviews, as well as teacher telephone interviews were conducted from a randomly selected sample of 302 children aged 6 through 12 years living in out-of-home placement. Interviews included standardized screening measures. Results showed that 27% of the children scored in the clinical range for a behavior problem, and 34% were rated as having at least one behavior problem in the classroom. Twenty-three percent of the children had severe delays in reading or math, 13% had repeated a grade, and 14% had a history of school suspension and/or expulsion. Behavior problems by foster parent report were related to child suspension and/or expulsion from school, but were not associated with severe academic delays or grade retention. Placement characteristics were only sometimes related to these outcomes. Future studies examining the mental health and educational needs of this population should take into account the child's sociodemographic and placement characteristics.

foster care behavior problems academic delays school failure children 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie T. Zima
    • 1
    • 2
  • Regina Bussing
    • 3
  • Stephanny Freeman
    • 4
  • Xiaowei Yang
    • 5
  • Thomas R. Belin
    • 6
  • Steven R. Forness
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.UCLA Health Services Research CenterLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychiatry and Health Policy and EpidemiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos Angeles
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos Angeles
  6. 6.Departments of Biostatistics and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos Angeles
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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