Apr. 8, 2005 – Adults who were in the Oregon and Washington foster care systems as children are twice as likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder as are US war veterans, a study revealed Wednesday.
Researchers with the Harvard Medical School reviewed case records of 659 people who had been under the care of Oregon or Washington state child welfare agencies between 1988 and 1998. The report's authors said it was one of the first to look at the long-term effects of foster care and may be indicative of national trends.
The study found that 20 percent of foster care alumni were unemployed, compared with 5 percent of the general population in the same age range. One-third lived at or below the poverty level and one-third had no health insurance. Twenty-two percent had been homeless at some point after leaving foster care.
More than half experienced one or more mental illness, including major depression, social phobias, and panic and anxiety disorders, compared with about one-fourth of the general population.
The study authors presented the 68-page report, including recommendations for improving foster care, at a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC.