Why foster care?
In 2008, more than 9,000 South Carolina children spent time in foster care.
Children who spend at least one year in foster care will, on average, spend 4 years in care
and live in 4 different homes before receiving a permanent placement or emancipating.
According to the CDC, 15-17 years old is a key developmental milestone.
1. Emotional Changes
2. Social Changes
3. Introduction and Literature Review
Children and adolescents in foster care have a number of emotional and mental
health problems including:
Prenatal risk factors
Emotional behavioral problems
4. Prenatal Risk Factors
Foster children are at risk for a series of prenatal exposures to dangerous
Seven out of ten children are removed because of parents addicted to dangerous
Foster children are more likely to be raised by single mothers
Foster children are more likely to be prenatally exposed to addictive substances
such as alcohol, nicotine, of psychoactive drugs.
These exposures often lead to developmental disorders
5. Psychopathology and Foster Care
Psychopathologies are common among those in foster care. Most common are:
Post-traumatic stress disorder- 42%
24% have atypical cortisol release patterns
Reactive attachment disorder- 37%
Eating disorders- one of two patterns emerge:
Excessive eating and maintenance
6. Emotional Trauma and Foster Care
There are 5 types of trauma:
1. Emotional abuse
2. Physical abuse
3. Sexual abuse
5. Domestic violence
Often, those in foster care have experienced these types: 70.7% had experienced 2
or more kinds of trauma, while 11.7% had experienced all types of trauma.
7. Protective Factors
Higher levels of contact with biological parents were associated with lower
Kinship care is not linked with better emotional health
Adolescents need a sense of familial belonging have a healthy emotional life and
to provide stability while they learn to balance dependence and autonomy
Stable, non-parental mentors have been shown to benefit youth in the foster care
8. The Gap in Current Knowledge
Assessment of adolescents is needed for three reasons:
Few studies have been conducted on the emotional stability of adolescents in
the foster care system
More exploratory research is needed on the adolescent population
More information is needed about how to improve the current system
9. Theoretical Framework
The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is useful for this theory because of three things:
1. Reciprocal determination
2. Ability to tie behavior to environmental and personal factors
3. Behavior is the best way to understand emotional health in foster care
10. Research Hypothesis
“The foster care system in South Carolina has a negative effect on the emotional health of
teenagers placed under its care.”
Purpose of this study
Evaluate the impact the foster care system on adolescents in South Carolina and
examine room for improvements in emotional care of adolescents.
11. Materials and Methods
A Mixed Methods Study is the best way to ensure a well-rounded, complete
assessment of the emotional well-being of adolescents within the foster care
Focus Group Studies-Qualitative
Beck Youth Inventory-Quantitative
12. Focus Group Structure
Three Focus groups composed of:
Male and Female
Variety of cities across the state
Equal Representation of all Foster Care living situations
1. Emergency Foster Care
2. Respite Foster Care
3. Short Term/Long Term Foster Care
4. Kinship Care
13. Focus Group Questions
1. What is your name?
2. When did you enter the foster system?
3. Were you initially placed near biological siblings and/or parents?
4. How many placements have you had during your time in the system?
5. How would you describe your emotional state?
6. What types of experiences have impacted your emotional state for the better?
7. What types of experiences have impacted your emotional state for the worse?
8. Who do you turn to for emotional support?
9. What activities or practices would help improve your confidence and sense of belonging?
10. How would you describe the foster care system’s approach towards maintaining or improving the emotional well being of the
adolescents it cares for?
14. Beck Youth Inventory
This inventory is composed of 20 statements designed to assess the range of negative
emotions typically experienced during adolescence, and results can be compared to a
normative range gathered by two population sample and a clinical sample. Emotions include:
4. Disruptive Behavior
These 20 statements are measured on a four item scale: Never, Sometimes, Often, and Always.
15. Limitations and Scope
Because this study will sample from all types of foster care, it will give a
generalized view of the SC foster care system and its effect on adolescent
Small study sample due to focus groups
Reliance on self-report means that the study is open to error
16. Justification and Conclusion
The research that will be performed will help to educate those who are affected directly and indirectly by
the foster care system.
What will come of the Research
Why children in foster care behave the way they do
Why stability is extremely important for the mental and emotional development of a child
New studies that are being brought forth about how to make living in the foster care system
Pass a law that could enable children to have a session weekly with a counselor
Why does this research deserve funding?
Teenage years come with peer pressure, bullying, etc. but when one of 13-18 years of age and
is living in foster care that can cause a great deal of stress on a young person
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18. References (Continued)Kools, S., & Kennedy, C. (2003). Foster child health and development: Implications for primary care. Pediatric Nursing, 29(1).
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