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The Effect of Placement Change on Foster Children's Utilization of Emergency Mental Health Services

  • Author(s): Fawley-King, Kya
  • Advisor(s): Snowden, Lonnie R.
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract

The Effect of Placement Change on Foster Children's Utilization of Emergency Mental Health Services

by

Kya Grace Fawley-King

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Lonnie Snowden, Chair

Placement instability is a significant problem within the foster care system. For children who have already been removed from the care of their biological parents, additional caregiver changes can have negative effects. There is evidence that foster children who change placements frequently are more likely than their peers to suffer from emotional and behavioral problems. While researchers have found that children who change placements have an increased likelihood of using outpatient mental health services, little is known about the relationship between placement change and use of crisis or inpatient psychiatric services.

The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of placement change during the first 90 days in foster care on utilization of crisis services and inpatient psychiatric treatment among a sample of 37,699 Californian children and youth who started a new foster care spell between October 1998 and March 2001. The results suggest that the relationship between placement change and use of crisis and inpatient psychiatric services is bi-directional and is dependent on the type of placement change. These findings suggest that foster children with psychiatric problems may be more likely to have certain types of placement changes, and that these changes can be detrimental for their mental health.

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