Mental health fears for children in care
Vulnerable children in state care can find themselves shifted around to three or more homes with a destabilising impact on their mental health, according to a new study.
The study, led by psychiatrist Dr Fiona McNicholas, looked at data on 174 children in one health service area with an average age of 10.
Many of them were in care for for three years or more. It found that 29 children did not have a social worker and 49 had no GP, while more than one in four had been in three or more homes. The majority of children had a history of abuse while the parental alcohol or drug misuse was also a major factor.
A significant number of children had attended a child psychiatry assessment or a psychological evaluation as part of the child care planning.
The most common diagnosis cited was attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, autism and depression .
Dr McNicholas said the findings portrayed a picture of a vulnerable group of young children in long-term care, placed in several homes, who experienced significant psychological and educational problems.