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ISSN 1378-286X

Table of Contents and Abstracts

Special Issue:

Mental health of children in public care: European perspectives (II)
Guest editors: Christine Cocker, & Hans Grietens


Editor�s note
Cocker, C., & Grietens, H.


Reviewing the research on the mental health of looked after children: Some issues for the development of more evidence informed practice
Scott, S.

Abstract: Recent prevalence research in the UK has identified up to half of all children in state care as having emotional and behavioural problems at clinical levels. While longitudinal research assures us that most children with such problems do not go on to have mental health problems in adult life, many are at high risk of criminal involvement and relationship difficulties. For a few, the combi�nation of anti-social behaviour and interpersonal issues will lead them to forensic psychiatric services � where previously �looked after� children are hugely over-represented.
There are major gaps in the evidence base to inform service development which must be addressed urgently if children currently in state care are to be supported in ways that might increase their chances of a bright future. The problems of �looked after� children are multiple, but most effectiveness research focuses on time-limited interventions for single issues. While there is increasing recognition that problems of attachment underlie many presenting behaviours in this population, there is a paucity of research on attachment interventions. In addition research incorporating looked after children and young people�s perspectives on their needs, expe�riences, and the value of services and approaches is extremely limited.


Mental health of children in institutional social care: Empirical findings from Greece
Agathonos-Georgopoulou, H., Sarafidou, J., & Stayrianaki, M.

Abstract: Within the framework of a EU funded collaborative program against social exclusion, a study was carried out in Greece on the mental health of children living in institutional social care. The sample comprised 204 out of 2173 children 6-18 years, randomly selected, living in all (29) institutions of social care under the state and the Greek Orthodox Church. An additional 250 children in residential care provided by NGO�s and voluntary organizations were not included in the study.
Findings revealed a steady decline in the population of children in institutions while an increasing need for fostering is being observed. At the time of the study (December 2002-March 2003), 2773 children 0-18 years were living under state care, 2173 in institutions and 600 in foster families, comprising 11000 of the total population of children in the country.
The instruments administered were: a) the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983), b) a questionnaire on the child and its family and c) a questionnaire on the institution, its policies and functions. All institutions responded with information on 95% of the children sample.
Results depict a high morbidity of mental health disorders as one in three children were clinically diagnosed with a mental health problem while differences in morbidity were observed among the three categories of institutions, reflecting the specific historical and cultural characteristics that have been influencing the evolution of child welfare policies in the country. As child protection in Greece manifests itself very differently to that of other countries in the EU, the re-orientation needed should bridge the gap between the organizational separation of child protection and men�tal health which is contributing in the violation of children�s rights, as well as on the combination of cultural sensitivity and empirical evidence while being in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Mental health of children in counselling institutions: Empirical findings from Flanders (Belgium)Grietens, H., & Hellinckx, W.

Abstract: We examined the prevalence and correlates of mental health problems in a representative sample of children six years or older living in counselling institutions in Flanders (Belgium), using the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) and a self-developed questionnaire. Data were gathered from 256 children. The findings showed that seriously deviant problem behaviours and psychopathology were highly prevalent in this group, that children�s problems were complex and only marginally to moderately affected by institution, educator, and child characteristics. Further, children�s problems tended to increase across time. Most children received professional help for their problems, either inside or outside the institution.


An examination of current specialist mental health projects for �looked after� children within England
Cocker, C.

Abstract: Evidence on outcomes for children in public care would suggest that the state does not make a good substitute parent. But it is not so easy as to correlate the outcome measures achieved by children in public care to the state�s care alone as many of the histories of children looked after are incredibly complex. Professionals� current knowledge base of effective interventions to support children who carry and bear enormous emotional trauma is challenged by the complexities of these children�s lives and the impact that their experiences have on them. Solutions are not quick fix and require dedication from a whole range of people involved in children�s lives. Central to this is the psychological and emotional support children are given. This study examines current specialist mental health projects for looked after children within England. A variety of new projects have recently been established across England with the express purpose of working to improve the mental health of children in public care. This study examines a selection of these projects: how they were set up, funding arrangements; staffing numbers; types of professionals involved; services offered and evaluation methodology used. The study describes the areas of key learning.