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Am J Public Health. 2001 July; 91(7): 1094–1099.
PMCID: PMC1446701

Mental health services for youths in foster care and disabled youths.


OBJECTIVES: This study assessed whether mental health services for youths differ with respect to medical assistance aid category. METHODS: Computerized claims for 15,507 youths with Medicaid insurance in a populous county of a mid-Atlantic state were used to establish population-based prevalence estimates of mental disorders and psychotherapeutic treatments during 1996. RESULTS: An analysis of service claims revealed that the prevalence of mental disorders among youths enrolled in foster care (57%) was twice that of youths receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI; 26%) and nearly 15 times that of other youths receiving other types of aid (4%). Rates of mental health service use were pronounced among foster care youths aged 6 to 14 years. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, and developmental disorders were the most prevalent disorders. Stimulants, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants were the most prevalent medications. CONCLUSIONS: Youths enrolled in foster care and youths receiving SSI use far more mental health services than do youths in other aid categories. Additional research should evaluate the complexity and outcomes of mental health services for youths in foster care.

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Selected References

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