Children and youth involved in the child welfare system are often at a greater risk for mental health conditions. This may be because of traumatic experiences, such as maltreatment or separation from parents and/or siblings. Higher mental health needs place children and youth at greater risk for poorer outcomes, like involvement with the juvenile justice system and housing instability. Child welfare professionals can support these children and youth by identifying mental health needs and connecting them to appropriate services. This section offers information about mental health conditions, medication, and partnering with parents.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Kaiser Permanente (1998)
Provides information, data, major findings, and publications about one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood trauma and later-life health and well-being.
Children and Mental Health: Is This Just a Stage?
National Institute of Mental Health (2021)
Helps practitioners and parents differentiate between typical childhood development and symptoms of mental health challenges. This resource provides practical signs that it may be time to seek additional mental health support and guidelines for how to access resources.
Children’s Mental Disorders
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Describes common disorders experienced by children and adolescents, including how those symptoms may appear at different ages and evidence-based treatments.
Episode 13: Collaborating Between Child Welfare and Mental Health [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2017)
Presents a model program from the National Center for Evidence-Based Practice in Child Welfare designed to connect mental health and child welfare professionals in order to create an effective partnership aimed at increasing permanency and decrease mental health concerns among children and youth in care.
Provides fact sheets about common childhood disorders like anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These fact sheets can be used to help explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment of mental health disorders to parents, teenagers, and children.
Mental Health and Foster Care
National Conference of State Legislatures (2019)
Outlines Federal, State, and local legislation related the provision of mental health resources for children and youth in foster care.
Mental Illness in Children: Know the Signs
Describes early indicators and symptoms of mental health disorders commonly diagnosed in childhood.
Supporting Youth in Foster Care in Making Healthy Choices: A Guide for Caregivers and Caseworkers on Trauma, Treatment, and Psychotropic Medications
What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Health-Care Professionals
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Provides resources for child welfare professionals and parents that educate about risk and protective factors for suicide prevention as they work with different populations of children and youth understand suicidal ideation and mental health crises.