The Impact of Continued Contact with Biological Parents upon the Mental Health of Children in Foster Care

Child Youth Serv Rev. 2010 Oct 1;32(10):1338-1345. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.05.003.


This study examined depression and externalizing problems of children in foster care using a subsample of data (N = 362) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Our findings indicated that more frequent contact with the biological mother was marginally associated with lower levels depression and significantly associated with lower externalizing problem behaviors. The association with externalizing problem behavior was significant even after controlling for gender and exposure to violence. Further, differences with regard to gender were revealed. Specifically, girls had higher depression scores than boys even after controlling for exposure to violence. Results suggest that supporting frequent, consistent, visitation may impact the levels of depression and externalizing programs children in foster care exhibit.