Many youth in foster care have experienced traumatic events in their lifetimes. In fact, it’s been cited that up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared to about 18-22 percent of the general population.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Foster Care America initiative identifies mental and behavioral health as the greatest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.
A study assessing mental health outcomes among former foster youth shows significant disparities versus the general population. The rate of panic disorder was more than three times higher, drug dependence was seven times higher and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was nearly five times higher than the general population. At 21.5 percent, PTSD rates among foster youth even exceeded the rates for American war veterans.
As a result, foster youth are prescribed with medications to treat symptoms at a higher rate than their peers, costing millions of dollars a year without necessarily treating the underlying causes. That’s why therapeutic foster care (also known as treatment foster care in some states) is such an important resource for youth who have experienced trauma. SAFY’s therapeutic foster care model provides treatment level care, clinical staff support and supplementary foster parent training requirements.
In-home and community-based behavioral health services also are part of SAFY’s Mission of Preserving Families and Securing Futures. From in-home treatment to counseling, SAFY foster families have access to outpatient services that help youth find effective coping strategies to improve their health and well-being.
In fact, our clinical expertise has successfully produced positive and sustainable change in the lives of many families and children. At SAFY, we believe that families are better together. Along with foster families, our Agents of Hope, SAFY serves families and youth in Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina.