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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Mental Health Law & Policy


Key Personnel:
Ilene R. Berson, Ph.D.
Amy C. Vargo, M.A.
Stephen Roggenbaum, M.A.
David Baker, M.P.H., M.S.W., R.N.

Mental Health Care for Child Welfare Clients: Final Report

Publication Date: 6/1/2002

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The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) contracted with the University of South Florida's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) during FY2001-02 to complete clinical case studies on currently open Department of Children and Families (DCF) foster care cases in the SunCoast region. Specifically, this study was designed to examine: (1) how demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, family and service system factors are related to service use patterns; (2) how foster care outcomes (child safety, permanence, child wellbeing and family stability) are supported through the mental health services received; and (3) whether interventions have been designed to include multiple systems (the child, foster parents, peers, school staff, behavioral and mental health professionals, and the broader community).

This study focused on twenty-one youth ages 10-17 years old who currently have an open case in the Department of Children and Families, have been in their foster care placement for at least six months, have undergone termination of parental rights (TPR), and reside in the DCF SunCoast Region of the state of Florida. Each child was Medicaid enrolled. The case studies consisted of a triad of semistructured interviews with a youth, a caregiver, and a primary behavioral health service provider. The protocol for the interviews was specifically developed for this study to focus on service utilization, treatment plans and the nature of the mental health interventions. In addition to the interviews, standardized assessments of the child's functioning were completed using the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 (CBCL), Youth Self Report (YSR), and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC).