ETHEL TEICHBERG-SABATH, PSYD, LCSW, MARIA VALICENTI-MCDERMOTT MD MS CHILDREN’S EVALUATION AND REHABILITATION CENTER-AECOM, BRONX, NY USA Number of Psychiatric Diagnoses of Children in Foster Care and Risk of not Being Adopted
The association between the number of DSM diagnoses given to younger children placed in foster care, after being referred for a multidisciplinary evaluation due to behavioral problems, and the child’s social characteristics such as time that child has spent in foster care, number of foster families and type of foster placement ( kinship vs. non kinship).
We also assessed the relationship between the number of DSM diagnoses given at a younger age to the likelihood of being adopted.
We identified 82 preschool children in foster care who presented to a University Affiliated Program for evaluation of developmental disabilities from 1988 through June 2003. Participants: African American 22 (27%); Hispanic 36 (44%); Asian 1 (1%); Caucasian 7 (9%) & Other 16 (19%).
Correlations of Number of DSM Diagnoses with Foster Care Variables Point Bi-Serial Correlations of Foster Care Variables with Adoption Status r p Total time in foster care .01 .49 Total time in non-family foster care .03 .42 Total time family foster care -.01 .47 Total number of placements .28 .022* Age at start of foster care .25 .044* r p Total time in foster care -.26 .033* Total time in non-family foster care -.24 .04* Total time family foster care -.07 .316 Total number of placements -.12 .199 Age at start of foster care -.10 .254
The best predictors of whether foster care children would be adopted or not were:
This study indicates that the longer children spent in total foster care and the longer they spent in non-family foster care; the less likely they were to be adopted.
Presence of ADHD, autistic spectrum disorder, presence of mental retardation, and presence of Disruptive Behavior Disorder (including Oppositional Defiant Disorder). The variables just mentioned were highly significant and successful in predicting those children who would be adopted (with 88% accuracy).
Disruptions in care are well known to negatively affect the ability of children to develop healthy attachments with their caregivers and thus, perhaps, the likelihood of being adopted.