Jeanette Yoffe, M.A., M.F.T. is the Executive Director and Founder of Celia Center, a support center that meets the critical needs of all those connected by Foster Care and Adoption. She is also the clinical director of Yoffe Therapy
1. Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care and is a public health crisis.
2. Foster Care Statistics:
In 2017, about 442,995 children were placed in foster care. Nearly 1/3 of them lived with relatives.
b. Recent studies suggest that up to 80% of children in foster care have significant mental health issues.
c. According to a national study by the Urban Institute, foster children had higher levels of emotional and behavior problems, more often had physical, learning, or mental health conditions that limited their psychosocial functioning, and were less engaged in school and more likely to have been expelled.
d. Of the children in foster care, just 23% of those in care for at least 12 months received any mental health services. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
e. Approximately 30% to 40% of children in foster care receive services through Special Education. (Vulin-Reynolds, Stephans, Lever & Weist, 2008)
d. Nearly 40% spend one to three years in foster placement.
e. Foster youth are 3-5 times more likely to commit suicide than same age peers, two and a half times more likely to think about possibly committing suicide, and four times more likely to make a suicide attempt (source: National Center for Prevention of Youth Suicide).
3. Barriers hindering mental health services to foster youth
a. Failure to provide adequate information to foster parents and/or social workers from birth family.
b. Lack of provider training on issues specific to foster care and trauma informed practice ie. Trauma lens I will give examples.
c. Lack of providers’ inability to recognize problems and make appropriate referrals or ask for support to risk inadequacy.
d. Lack of reliance of caseworkers’ on foster parents’ judgment in identifying mental health problems of children in their care.
4. Identify the range of Mental, emotional, and behavior challenges:
a. STRESS anxiety disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder
b. GRIEF major depression, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation
c. ATTACHMENT attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, conduct disorders, eating disorders, autism and schizophrenia.
5. What should be done to reduce mental health issues in foster care, we need to create the following:
a. STABILITY of ATTACHMENT: Mental and behavioral health requires the presence of at least 1 nurturing, responsive caregiver who is stable in the child’s or teen’s life over time.
b. STABILITY IN ROUTINE: Children and teens thrive when their families have routines, structure, and reasonable expectations; and parents display warmth and nurturance.
c. STABILITY OF FAMILY CONNECTIONS: Foster care should provide a stable, nurturing foster or kinship home and all the services appropriate to the needs of children and teens.
d. STABILITY OF FOCUSING ON THE FAMILY’s STRENGTHS: Foster care should partner with birth parents and older children and teens in foster care to identify family strengths that can become the foundation of healing for the entire family.
6. Point out the Strengths of foster youth and share that I was raised in foster care and received mental health services starting at the age of 13 and one of the reasons I became a therapist.
ABOUT JEANETTE YOFFE, M.A., M.F.T.
Jeanette Yoffe, M.A., M.F.T., is the Executive Director and Founder of Celia Center, a support center that meets the critical needs of all those connected by Foster Care and Adoption and supports all those who serve the community in Los Angeles and beyond via support groups, mental health conferences, wolf healings, and art festivals. She is the clinical director of Yoffe Therapy, which provides psychotherapy to children, teens and their families treating attachment, trauma, grief and loss challenges.
She has been in the field for over 20 years and has worked as a psychotherapist, foster care social worker, clinical director, trainer for Los Angeles Child and Family Services, Department of Mental Health for parents, social workers and therapists on adoption & foster care challenges, parenting, impact of pre-adoption trauma, grief/loss, open adoption. She provides support to adult adoptees searching for long lost family members, as well as assist in reunion and family reunification. She was awarded the Foster Care Hero Award for her dedication to children and families in foster care in Los Angeles.
Yoffe’s desire to become a therapist with a special focus on adopted and foster care issues derived from her own experience of being adopted and moving through the foster care system in New York.
Dr. John Huber (www.mainstreammentalhealth.org) is the Chairman for Mainstream Mental Health, a non-profit organization that brings lasting and positive change to the lives of individuals that suffer from mental health issues. A mental health professional for over twenty years, Dr. Huber is a Clinical Forensic Psychologist, and he is a practitioner with privileges at two long term acute care hospitals. Dr. Huber has appeared on over three hundred top tier radio shows (NBC Radio, CBS, Fox News Radio) and thirty national television programs (ABC, NBC, Spectrum News). In addition Dr. Huber is the host of “Mainstream Mental Health Radio” which is heard nationwide and features interviews with today’s top mental health professionals.