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A mixed method exploratory analysis of mental health related foster care placement and social inequality

Crystal Ann Edwards, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Foster children often do not receive the mental health services they need, or they do so in a manner that is "duplicated, inefficient and fragmented". State foster care systems, including Nebraska, often fail to meet the emotional, social, and medical needs of children in their care (U.S. DHHS 2002). I explored the process of identifying, evaluating, and labeling mental health problems and the subsequent decision to place children into foster care by analyzing federal, Nebraska state, and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) organizational policies. I interviewed key informants in the intake and assessment process and used Nebraska Foster Care Review Board data from 2002 to conduct analyses of the influence of child race and gender on placement for children's or parents' mental health problems and the number of placements children experienced. Finally, based on significant findings in the quantitative data, I sampled and qualitatively analyzed case files of children placed for individual mental health problems. I used the perspectives of medicalization, multiracial feminist theory and the Standard North American Family Ideological Code to interpret findings. ^ This study contributes to the literature on the foster care placement for mental health problems by demonstrating that there are raced and gendered social demographic patterns for children placed for mental health problems. Second, foster care placement for mental health problems may be intended to be therapeutic, but there is a coercive and punitive element to it. Third, social workers and mental health professionals use foster care as a mental health treatment. Fourth, children placed for individual mental health problems experience more foster care placements than those placed for other reasons. And finally, minority and male children experience more placements regardless of the reason. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, General|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Crystal Ann, "A mixed method exploratory analysis of mental health related foster care placement and social inequality" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3194113.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3194113

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