To assess the impact of treatment foster care (TFC) on psychosocial and behavioral outcomes, delinquency, placement stability, and discharge status for children and adolescents who, for reasons of severe medical, social, psychological and behavioural problems, were placed in out-of-home care in restrictive settings or at risk of placement in such settings.
Electronic bibliographic databases, web searches, and article reference lists were used to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the effectiveness of TFC with children and young people. The Cochrane Collaboration's criteria were used to assess the methodological quality of studies that met the inclusion criteria. Wherever possible, extracted outcome data from similar studies were synthesized with random effects meta-analyses.
A total of 5 studies including 390 participants were included in this review. Data suggest that TFC may be a useful intervention for children and young people with complex emotional, psychological, and behavioural need, who are at risk of placements in nonfamily settings that restrict their liberty and opportunities for social inclusion.
Although the inclusion criteria for this systematic review set a study design threshold higher than that of previous reviews, the findings mirror those of earlier reviews. While the results of individual studies generally indicate that TFC is a promising intervention for children and youth experiencing mental health problems, behavioral problems, or problems of delinquency, the evidence base is not robust and more research is needed due to the limited number of studies in this area.
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