Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Document Type



Children in foster care are at risk for problems associated with breakdowns in their ecological system. Possible explanations for this may be that children’s daily interactions in early childhood are primarily with their parents. The relationship between child and parent (the dyad) is a crucial part of the way children grow and develop. Past research focuses on the child’s behavior problems as separate and isolated instead of focusing on the behavior problems as a symptom of the dysfunction in the dyad. This study explored the role of two specific risk factors for children in foster care and how these may influence their daily behaviors and wellbeing, parental mental illness and prenatal substance exposure. This study used Child Behavior Checklist scores as a measure for children’s daily behaviors. Data analyses include quantitative group- and case-level information retrieved from clinical records. Ecological systems theory is used as a framework to understand the dimensions of problems associated with child maltreatment and foster care placement. Results suggested that children in foster care who have been exposed to a parent with mental illness experience more behavior problems than children who have not been exposed to a parent with mental illness. Case level data suggested that age upon entry into foster care, duration of exposure to parental mental illness, number of placements, and children’s diagnoses could possibly be linked to more behavior problems for children in foster care.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Page, Timothy



Included in

Social Work Commons