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Impact of a Mentoring and Skills Group Program on Mental Health Outcomes for Maltreated Children in Foster Care

NCJ Number
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Volume: 8 Issue: 164 Dated: 2010 Pages: 739-746
Heather N. Taussig; Sara E. Culhane
Date Published
8 pages

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Fostering Healthy Futures program in reducing mental health conditions and associated problems.


The evaluation was conducted in the Denver (Colorado) metropolitan area using a randomized controlled trial. Participants were children ages 9 to 11 years old who were maltreated and placed in foster care. Children in the control group (n = 77) received an assessment of their cognitive, educational, and mental health functioning. Children in the intervention group (n = 79) received the assessment and participated in a 9-month mentoring and skills group program. Children and caregivers were interviewed at baseline prior to randomization, immediately following the intervention, and 6 months after the intervention. Teachers were interviewed two times after baseline. Measures included a multi-informant index of mental health problems; youth-reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress, dissociation, and quality of life; and caregiver- and youth-reported use of mental health services and psychotropic medications. After adjusting for covariates, intent-to-treat analyses demonstrated that the treatment group had fewer mental health problems on a multi-informant factor 6 months after the intervention (mean difference, −0.51; 95 percent confidence interval, −0.84 to −0.19), reported fewer symptoms of dissociation 6 months after the intervention (mean difference, −3.66; 95 percent confidence interval, −6.58 to −0.74), and reported better quality of life immediately following the intervention (mean difference, 0.11; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.03 to 0.19). Fewer youths in the intervention group than in the control group had received recent mental health therapy 6 months after the intervention according to youth report (53 percent vs 71 percent, respectively; relative risk = 0.75; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.57 to 0.98). The study concludes that a 9-month mentoring and skills group intervention for children in foster care can be implemented with fidelity and high uptake rates, resulting in improved mental health outcomes. (publisher abstract modified)