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Supportive Intervention May Help Maltreated Foster Children

Mentoring and skills group program appears to have positive effect on mental health, quality of life

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Participation in a mentoring and skills group program may have a positive impact on the mental health and quality of life of maltreated children placed in foster care, according to research published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Heather N. Taussig, Ph.D., and Sara E. Culhane, J.D., of the University of Colorado Denver, randomly assigned children, aged 9 to 11 years, who had been maltreated and placed in foster care to an assessment of cognitive, educational, and mental health functioning (control group) or the same assessment plus participation in a nine-month mentoring and skills group program (intervention group). The aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fostering Healthy Futures program in reducing mental health problems and associated issues.

The researchers found that the treatment group had fewer mental health problems and disassociation symptoms six months after intervention, and better quality of life immediately after the onset of intervention. Within six months of intervention, fewer children in the intervention group had received mental health therapy than in the control group (53 versus 71 percent).

"A nine-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," the authors write.

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