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March 2008Vol. 9, No. 2Study Surveys the Mental Health of Foster Youth

A recent study found that past-year mental health diagnosis rates among youth in foster care were similar to those among youth in the general population. The mental health of youth receiving foster care services from Casey Family Programs is the focus of a new publication, Mental Health, Ethnicity, Sexuality, and Spirituality Among Youth in Foster Care: Findings From the Casey Field Office Mental Health Study. The study features interviews with 188 youth between age 14 and 17 who were receiving foster care services at eight Casey field offices located in Arizona, California, Idaho, Texas, and Washington. The survey included questions about mental health, spirituality, ethnic identity, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

While past-year diagnosis rates were similar among Casey youth and youth in the general population, lifetime rates were higher among Casey youth. Results suggest that placement into foster care may provide a stable environment that allows youth to recover from mental health disorders. The report concludes with policy, program, and research recommendations.

The report was compiled by Catherine Roller White, Anne Havalchak, Lovie Jackson, Kirk O'Brien, and Peter Pecora. The full report and an executive summary are available online: