According to a new study, children that have been placed in foster care come across a higher risk of mental and physical problems that include ADHD, asthma to depression. The researchers explain that taking into account all of the adversity which these children face, such results are expected.
This study is the first one to compare the rates of health issues faced by these children to other children from the U.S. including kids from single-parent or low-income families.
The lead researcher, Kristin Turney, states that this particular study only confirms that children that are in foster care are more vulnerable. Her team found out that foster kids were at a three times higher risk of developing health related ailments such as hearing problems, obesity, asthma, and vision issues. These kids were also almost seven times more susceptible to exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, depression or other behavioral issues.
Turney stressed that these findings don’t mean that foster care is responsible for these problems. The only purpose of this study is to point out how foster children in the U.S. are faring. In a foster care system, an adult is temporarily responsible for those children that have biological parents who can’t take care of them properly.
According to Julia Steele, the results of the study were not surprising. However, they are highly important. Steele suggested that every child should go through mental and physical health evaluation when they are put in the system. She also added, that ideally, the children that need help with issues like anxiety and depression should be given trauma-informed therapy.
However, ideal practices and the reality of the world we live in are always the opposite. Steele explained that the systems of foster care and the laws that govern them vary by state. Additionally, the local sources available can also vary. For example, in rural areas, there might be a lack of experts that can provide the reliable trauma-informed therapy that the children need.
Steele added that what is required are more resources and better funding because it is the responsibility of the society to support these children.
These findings came from a health survey which was done between 2011 and 2012. The study covered almost 96,000 children as well as teenagers. Out of these, 0.5% of children were in foster care. Overall, the kids in foster care had a greater rate of particular physical health problems. A total of 18% of participants had asthma while the rate in other U.S. kids was 9%. Almost 1/4th of the foster care kids were obese while the rate of obesity in other kids was 16%.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found out that there were often major differences when it came to behavior and mental health. Around 14% to 17% of the children in foster care had become victim to depression, anxiety or similar behavior problems. On the other hand, the rate in other U.S. kids was only 2% to 3%. The rate of ADHD in kids in foster care was found to be 22% as compared to 7% of the other kids.
Regardless, the most important message specifically for all the foster parents is that they should reach out for help if they need it instead of trying to approach the problem on their own.