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The mental health needs of looked after children in a local authority permanent placement team and the value of the Goodman SDQ

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Abstract:

Lin Richards, Nola Wood and Luisa Ruiz-Calzada investigated the current level of emotional and behavioural need and pre- and post-care experiences for children placed in one local authority social care department permanent placement team. A cohort of 41 looked after children was assessed by foster carers, teachers and young people aged 11–16 years themselves, using the Goodman Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The results were related to a number of factors taken from each child's individual historical experiences as understood from their social work files. The results supported the growing body of research indicating that the mental health needs of looked after children are significantly higher than those of the general population. A range of factors was found to reach statistical significance in relation to increased mental health difficulties. The research highlighted the complex and multi-factorial nature of the experiences of the looked after cohort that contribute to overall emotional well-being and positive mental health. The study also sought to identify a suitable screening tool for the early identification of mental health need and Goodman's SDQ is discussed in this light.

Keywords: EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS; LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN; PERMANENT PLACEMENTS; PRE- AND POST-CARE EXPERIENCES AND SCREENING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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