Prevalence of Mental Disorders and Associated Service Variables Among Ontario Children Who Are Permanent Wards

Posted on March 11, 2014

Staff members in the child welfare sector are required to promote the safety and health of the foster children they supervise. According to the executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada, provincial ministries commonly direct these staff to identify and address the particular emotional and behavioural needs of children in care but cannot necessarily provide the professional involvement needed (Peter Dudding, personal communication, May 12,2006). For decades, researchers and practitioners in children’s mental health and child welfare have argued that the mental health needs of children in care must be identified and addressed, yet these needs are still not uniformly assessed. Uniformity could be achieved if psychiatric evaluations or psychological assessments were mandatory, as has been proposed else-where. Further, documenting the actual rates of psychiatric diagnoses among samples of foster children is an important building block toward understanding determinants of mental health in this population and may assist future efforts to estimate ongoing contacts with psychiatrists and other mental health service providers.

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