Research by the Texas-based organization Upbring explores the prevalence of special health care needs (SHCN) of children involved in the United States child welfare system. Its third white paper, entitled “Special Health Needs of Children Investigated for Maltreatment”, finds that behavioral SHCNs are more predictive of out-of-home placement than physical needs.
In an email statement, Upbring representative Frank Ward states: “This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.”
The report examines data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being with the goal of determining 1) the particular SHCNs of U.S. children in the child welfare system and 2) which of these are predictors specifically of out-of home placement.
While out-of-home placements are associated with many kinds of behavioral SHCNs, ADHD is the most common; according to the data, 16.5 percent of children investigated for maltreatment have ADHD. Emotional development delay, mental development delay, depression and anxiety are also common. These result in an increased statistical likelihood of out-of-home placements.
This report explicitly outlines the implications of these findings for child welfare agencies, imploring them to re-examine the process of placing a child out-of-home and take health needs into closer consideration. Additionally, it discusses the importance of readily available behavioral health services and foster parent support when system-involved children exhibit SHCNs.
According to Upbring’s statement on the report, it is one organization that intends to “[take] these recommendations seriously by providing extra supports to our families caring for children with special health needs, such as training and on-staff nursing expertise.”
For more information or to read the report in its entirety, click here.