A Positive Youth Development Approach to Improving Mental Health Outcomes for Maltreated Children in Foster Care: Replication and Extension of an RCT of the Fostering Healthy Futures Program

Heather N. Taussig, Lindsey M. Weiler, Edward F. Garrido, Tara Rhodes, Ashley Boat, Melody Fadell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Preventing the negative impact of maltreatment on children's mental health requires interventions to be contextually sensitive, grounded in theory and research, and effective in reaching and retaining children and families. This study replicates and extends previous findings of the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, a 30-week mentoring and skills group intervention for preadolescent maltreated children in foster care. Participants included 426 children recently placed in out-of-home care who were randomized to intervention or control conditions. Outcomes measured 6–10 months postintervention included a multi-informant (child, caregiver, teacher) index of mental health problems as well as measures of posttraumatic stress symptoms, dissociative symptoms, quality of life, and use of mental health services and psychotropic medications. There were high rates of program initiation, retention, and engagement; 95% of those randomized to FHF started the program, 92% completed it, and over 85% of the mentoring visits and skills groups were attended. The FHF program demonstrated significant impact in reducing mental health symptomatology, especially trauma symptoms, and mental health service utilization. These program effects were consistent across almost all subgroups, suggesting that FHF confers benefit for diverse children. Results indicate that positive youth development programming is highly acceptable to children and families and that it can positively impact trauma and its sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-417
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume64
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to express our appreciation to the children and families who made this work possible and to the participating county departments of social services for their ongoing partnership in our joint clinical research efforts. We also thank Sara Culhane, JD, PhD, Robyn Wertheimer, LCSW, Orah Fireman, M.Ed., LCSW, and Jennifer Koch‐Zapfel, LCSW, for their for their many years of work on the FHF program. Finally, this project would not have been possible without hundreds of exceptional research assistants, project interviewers, interns/mentors, group leaders, and skills group assistants. This project was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (1 K01 MH01972, 1 R21 MH067618, and 1 R01 MH076919, H. Taussig, PI) and funding from the Kempe Foundation, Pioneer Fund, Daniels Fund, and Children's Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Weiler was supported by USPHS grant T32 MH15442, “Development of Psychopathology, Psychobiology & Behavior” (UCD Institutional Postdoctoral Research Training Program). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information:
We wish to express our appreciation to the children and families who made this work possible and to the participating county departments of social services for their ongoing partnership in our joint clinical research efforts. We also thank Sara Culhane, JD, PhD, Robyn Wertheimer, LCSW, Orah Fireman, M.Ed., LCSW, and Jennifer Koch-Zapfel, LCSW, for their for their many years of work on the FHF program. Finally, this project would not have been possible without hundreds of exceptional research assistants, project interviewers, interns/mentors, group leaders, and skills group assistants. This project was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (1 K01 MH01972, 1 R21 MH067618, and 1 R01 MH076919, H. Taussig, PI) and funding from the Kempe Foundation, Pioneer Fund, Daniels Fund, and Children's Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Weiler was supported by USPHS grant T32 MH15442, ?Development of Psychopathology, Psychobiology & Behavior? (UCD Institutional Postdoctoral Research Training Program).?The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society for Community Research and Action

Keywords

  • Foster care
  • Maltreatment
  • Mental health
  • Mentoring
  • Skills training
  • Trauma

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