Mental Health Outcomes Among Youth In Foster Care With Disabilities.
Lee, Junghee. Powers, Laurie. Geenen, Sarah. Schmidt, Jessica.
Published: November 2018
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 94 , p. 27-34
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Background; The mental health outcomes among youth in foster care with disabilities are under studied. Increasing our understanding of mental health risk and protective factors is essential for improving the mental health and quality of life of this population. This study tests the associations of risk and protective factors on mental health outcome variables of youth in foster care with disabilities.; ; Methods; All Oregon youth in foster care who were ages 16.6–18.5 and attending study school districts were invited to participate in a federally-funded longitudinal RCT evaluation, which sought to assess the effectiveness of self-determination enhancement on outcomes of youth transitioning from foster care to adult life. Only baseline data was used with a final sample of 305. Receipt of special education services was used as the proxy for disability status. The risk factors included trauma exposure, hopelessness, placement type, perceived placement restrictiveness. The protective factors included social support and self-determination. The outcome variables included internalizing and externalizing mental health symptoms, quality of life. Preliminary analyses organized by special education (SPED) involvement vs. study variables were conducted, and stepwise regressions were followed.; ; Results; Findings revealed SPED was associated with being in a restrictive foster placement. Youth involved in SPED reported higher perceived placement restrictiveness and hopelessness, but lower quality of life (QoL). Self-determination was a consistent protective factor. Post-traumatic symptomology was a consistent and strongest risk factor for all outcome variables.; ; Conclusions; Although it is not possible to change previous adverse childhood experiences that result in currently experienced trauma, well-designed self-determination enhancement interventions and the support of caring adults may reduce negative mental health outcomes and improve QoL. (Author abstract)
children with disabilities; mental disorders; foster children; resilience; special education; child placement; posttraumatic stress disorder; childhood trauma; risk factors; foster adolescents