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Fostering | Screen and Prevent

Brenda Foster carer

Screen and Prevent

Preventative services for Foster Carers

A study by Cathrine Mihalopoulos and colleagues found that screening children who appeared inhibited at pre-school and offering their parents a focussed package to help them, prevented the children’s inhibition developing into anxiety. It made me wonder whether this screening and focussed preventative approach could also work for children in care.

It seems to me that when children are referred into mental health services for treatment the balance of the work is weighted toward the child. If the parents were more involved it may be as successful in preventing problems escalating as Mihalopoulos found in her study.

Maybe I’m out the loop but I’m not aware of any preventative services for Foster Carers and children in placements.

As we broadly know the sorts of problems the children may develop I wondered why not? There will be resource issues no doubt but is this not a good investment if it prevents problems worsening?  The need for prevention and early intervention with children has been on our agenda for a while hence the development of Surestart Centres, for example.

In the news today there were calls for a ‘screen and treat’ service for people who were victims of the shootings in Tunisia.

Although I am not suggesting that all children in care will have post-traumatic stress disorder they may none the less benefit from a proactive service which screens them for difficulties and offers a focussed preventative service to their carers.  Otherwise problems may worsen and help will potentially become more expensive and less effective.

Perhaps a good place to start would be to see if Mihalopoulos’ study could be replicated with Foster Carers and children in the care system.

Brenda McLackland
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Mihalopoulos, C., Vos, T., Rapee, R. M., Pirkis, J., Chatterton, M. L., Lee, Y.-C. and Carter, R. (2015), The population cost-effectiveness of a parenting intervention designed to prevent anxiety disorders in children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56: 1026–1033. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.1243

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