This paper describes caregiver-reported patterns of mental health service use for 347 pre-adolescent children in foster and kinship care in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Children’s mean time in care and mean time with their present caregivers were 4.3 and 3.3 years respectively. Forty-four percent of children received individual therapy or counselling, 45% received interventions in the form of clinical guidance for their caregivers, and 31% received both forms of service. Among children scoring in the clinical range on any CBCL sub-scale (N = 191), equivalent rates of mental health service use were 60%, 55% and 41% respectively. Although not directly comparable, these findings describe a higher rate of service use than that reported for children in care elsewhere. While children with more complex and severe difficulties had higher rates of service use, there was no evidence of variable access for treatment of different types of disorder. Predictors of service use are reported and contrasted with previous findings. The paper considers several features of the NSW child welfare, health and education systems that may account for the relatively high rate of service use.
Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry Vol. 15, Issue 4, p. 481-495