Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 283–296 | Cite as

Mental Health Problems of Children in Foster Care

  • June M. Clausen
  • John Landsverk
  • William Ganger
  • David Chadwick
  • Alan Litrownik


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 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • June M. Clausen
    • 1
  • John Landsverk
    • 2
  • William Ganger
    • 3
  • David Chadwick
    • 4
  • Alan Litrownik
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of San FranciscoSan Francisco
  2. 2.School of Social WorkSan Diego State UniversitySan Diego
  3. 3.Center for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health ServicesSan Diego
  4. 4.Center for Child ProtectionChildren's HospitalSan Diego
  5. 5.Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan Diego

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