Mental Health Among Foster & Adopted Youth

Youth with foster care experience are at a higher risk for developing psychopathology and experience greater rates of mental health disorders compared to the general population. In addition, the stress associated with the pandemic has likely exacerbated the psychological burden of current or former foster youth, making interventions more critical than ever. Given the early evidence suggesting that TMH and other telehealth services are a practical and beneficial treatment approach for increasing engagement among youth, this paper seeks to extend the findings to foster and adopted youth receiving mental health services and explore additional indicators of engagement.

This paper aims to compare in-person mental health service utilization to TMH service utilization to investigate whether client engagement in mental health services changed among foster and adopted youth during the COVID- 19 pandemic. Considering the logistical hurdles alleviated by TMH (e.g., transportation, time), and TMH’s success in increasing service engagement among youth in the general population, we hypothesized that participants would engage in treatment at an overall higher rate during TMH compared to in-person. Further, we explored how treatment engagement was affected by age, gender, race, client diagnosis, and treatment modality.

This study addresses a gap in the current literature on the treatment engagement of foster and adopted youth and the use of TMH services to support client engagement in general. Additionally, our paper utilizes data directly from mental health records, including the number, frequency, and length of sessions, distinguishing it from various studies that use client and provider perceptions to assess TMH. Findings have important implications that may redefine how quality care can be delivered to a population with significant psychological care needs.