Treating mental health disorders for children in child welfare care: Evaluating the outcome literature

Treating mental health disorders for children in child welfare care: Evaluating the outcome literature

Stewart, S. L. Leschied, A. den Dunnen, W. Zalmanowitz,, S. Baiden, P.
Child and Youth Care Forum
Background: Children involved in the child welfare system (CWS) have a greater need for mental health treatment relative to children in the general population. However, the research on mental health treatment for children in the CWS is sparse with only one known previous review of mental health services with children in the CWS. Objective: This review reports on an evaluation of the literature examining mental health interventions for children within the CWS. Methods: The Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) process was used as the basis of the evaluation. Results: The results reflect that, while the overall quality of research in this area is low and findings are, at times, inconsistent, detailed, manualized interventions using multiple treatment components that focus on family, child, and school factors showed the most promise in regards to child mental health outcomes and placement stability. These interventions not only report the best quality outcomes for children and families, but they were also most highly recommended within the GRADE analysis. Conclusions: These findings emphasize the importance of comprehensive intervention efforts that involve the family and community, as well as the child. The inconsistent positive outcomes may be partially explained by the lack of trauma-informed practices incorporated into treatment for these often traumatized children. Recommendations for research in regards to mental health interventions for children in the CWS are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).

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Type of intervention

Treatment and Child Welfare Interventions


Psychosocial Treatments

Fosterhomes and Emergency Placement Foster Care

The organization of interventions

Network Interventions

Age group

Infants and Toddlers (0-2 years)

Preschool Aged Children (3-5 years)

School Aged Children (6-12 years)

Adolescents (13-18 years)

Age not specified

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