Parent and Caregiver Relationships and Mental Health Symptom Profiles of Youth in Foster Care

Lenore M. McWey, Ming Cui, Armeda Stevenson Wojciak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adolescents in foster care can be quite resilient, yet they also are at risk for developing internalizing and externalizing mental health concerns. Positive family relationships are central to adolescent mental health, and these relationships can be complex for youth in foster care placements. Accordingly, there can be significant heterogeneity in the mental health symptoms of youth in foster care. The aims of this study were to identify distinct subgroups of youth patterns of internalizing and externalizing symptoms and determine the extent to which positive biological and foster parent relationships predicted profiles of low youth mental health symptoms. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being II (N = 343) and a person-centered analytic approach, results revealed four distinct profiles of youths’ mental health symptoms, those with: high internalizing and high externalizing symptoms, high internalizing and moderate externalizing symptoms, moderate internalizing and moderate externalizing symptoms, and low internalizing and low externalizing symptoms. Additionally, youth with better relationships with biological parents were less likely to be in the high symptoms group compared to the low symptoms group. These findings can be used to inform targeted intervention efforts aimed to lessen the mental health symptoms of youth in foster care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-581
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03HD099424. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Child welfare
  • Foster care
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Mental health
  • Person-centered

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