Adolescents In Foster Care

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Children and adolescents in foster care represent a highly traumatized population and are at an elevated risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These youths experience a wide range of trauma ranging from familial separation, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, neglect, bereavement, and domestic/community violence. As of September 30, 2014, there were approximately 415,129 children placed in foster care (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). The number of children entering the foster care system has dramatically increased in recent decades, and research suggests the surge is due to the rising number of neglect cases associated with parental drug/alcohol abuse, poverty, homelessness, AIDS, and domestic violence …show more content…

SPARCS incorporates elements of CBT with a focus on mindfulness and problem-solving skills (De Rosa et. al., 2006). The intervention consists an average of 16 weekly group sessions that are about an hour in length. As adolescents increasingly value autonomy and independence during this stage of life, the influence of peer groups intensifies dramatically. Thus, a group intervention such as SPARCS may be especially powerful for this population and allow youths to connect with peers that are often experiencing similar traumas. Facilitators often report that members express feeling validated simply upon hearing the histories of other group members (NCTSN, …show more content…

Specifically, youths produced significant changes on subscales measuring conduct problems, inattention/hyperactivity, somatic complaints, high-risk behaviors, and interpersonal relationships (Weiner, Schneider, & Lyons, 2009). Encouraging results were also found in an EBP Pilot Program conducted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in conjunction with The Mental Health Services and Policy Program at Northwestern University. The study found that adolescents in foster care receiving SPARCS were half as likely to run away, and one-fourth less likely to experience placement interruptions compared to a standard of care group. Youths displayed significant improvements in intrapersonal distress, somatic symptoms, interpersonal relations, social problems, and behavioral dysfunction in Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ) scores. In the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index score, adolescents showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms such as re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyper-arousal post intervention (Northwestern University,

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