• June 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 6

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Mental Health Needs Among Children in Kinship Care

Chapin Hall recently published the findings from an evaluation of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that examined the degree to which the mental health needs were being met for children in kinship care. The study also looked at the relationship between the level of caseworker concern about caregivers and whether or not children were receiving services following comprehensive assessments.

Children in the study were evaluated using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) instrument, which, in part, assesses need for mental health services. Researchers found that 28.4 percent of the children in the study were in need of such services; however, within 6 months of being placed in kinship care, only 14.2 percent of these children had a Medicaid claim indicating receipt of the services.

Researchers looked at caseworker concerns about caregivers on 12 separate "actionable" items or domains where interventions were needed. Overall, 25 percent of children were placed with caregivers about whom caseworkers had some degree of concern, with two actionable areas being cited most frequently as the source for that concern. These two actionable domains were knowledge, defined as the caregiver's understanding of and ability to act on the rationale for the child's treatment, and resources, or the financial and social assets that the caregiver could provide in meeting the child and family needs.

The study concludes by noting that caseworker concerns about caregivers should not prevent placement with that individual, but front-end assessments and interventions should be administered in order to increase the likelihood that concrete supports will be provided to the family.

The Unmet Mental Health Needs Among Children in Kinship Care is available on the Chapin Hall website:

http://www.chapinhall.org/research/inside/unmet-mental-health-needs-among-children-kinship-care

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