Include these key points in your messaging to demonstrate the importance of prioritizing conversations about the mental health needs of children and youth in foster care and their caregivers.
View these statistics to learn about the higher rates in which children and youth in foster care experience mental health challenges. They also present the systemic barriers that Black, Indigenous, and other children and youth of color as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) populations face in receiving culturally appropriate mental health services and supports.
- There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care. Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for these children and teens.
- Up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared with approximately 18 to 22 percent of the general population.
- Native American/Alaskan Native people report experiencing serious psychological distress 2.5 times more often than the general population over a month’s time. (Native and Indigenous Communities and Mental Health)
- LGBTQIA2S+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than non-LGBTQIA2A+-identifying teens. (LGBTQ+ Communities and Mental Health)
- In comparison with the general population, African Americans are less likely to be offered evidence-based medication therapy or psychotherapy. (Mental Health Disparities: African Americans)
- Nearly 90 percent of Latinx/Hispanic people over the age of 12 with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment. (Latinx/Hispanic Communities and Mental Health)
- Language barriers contribute to the difficulty in finding health care and other services. Overall, 32.6 percent of Asian Americans do not speak English fluently. (Asian American / Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health)
- Because of the complex traumas faced by children and youth in foster care, foster care alumni experienced posttraumatic stress disorder at a rate nearly five times higher than the general adult population.
- Youth in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications at a much higher rate (ranging from 13 to 52 percent) than youth in the general population (4 percent).
Use these facts to learn how child welfare professionals can view mental health services with a lens that includes a consideration of the culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and disability of the recipient and take a holistic and culturally responsive approach to supporting the mental health needs of children and youth in foster care and their caregivers.
- Investing in culturally appropriate mental health supports that recognize an individual’s identity, culture, and lived experience may improve the effectiveness of services and supports and improve long-term outcomes for children and youth.
- To meaningfully address the mental health needs of children, youth, and young adults in foster care, requires a holistic approach that focuses broadly on their well-being within the contexts of home, family, school, work, and community.
- Youth and young adults are experts on their own lives. Empowering youth to make informed decisions about the mental health treatment and services they receive, who they receive them from, and when can help young people connect with providers and improve outcomes.
- Maintaining relationships with relatives and kin can increase stability, reduce trauma, and help children maintain a sense of family, belonging, and identity.
- Relational permanency is fundamental to the well-being of children and youth in foster care. Stable, nurturing placements have positive impacts on children and youth’s resilience and long-term well-being.
- Effective training and support for foster parents will improve retention, increase placement stability, and increase capacity to help children and youth in care navigate life’s challenges.