Help-seeking steps and service use for children in foster care

Bonnie T. Zima, Regina Bussing, Xiaowei Yang, Thomas R. Belin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


This study describes help-seeking steps and service-use patterns for school-age children in foster care. It also examines how these access indices are moderated by sociodemographic, enabling, and child disorder factors. Two home interviews and a telephone teacher interview were conducted using a sample of 302 randomly selected children (age 6-12 years) in foster care. The majority of children (80%) were given a psychiatric diagnosis, and 43% of the foster parents perceived a need for mental health services for the child. In the past year, about one-half of the children had received mental health (51%) and special education services (52%). Age and ethnicity, foster parent education, placement history, level of monthly benefits, number of caseworker visits, and disorder characteristics were related to help-seeking steps and mental health service use. Strategies to improve access to mental health services for children in foster care should include interventions at the caregiver and system levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Behavioral Health Services and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)


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