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The REACH Institute: Best Practice Guidelines Address Mental Health Needs of Youth in Care
Date:3/9/2009

Child Welfare League of America Publishes Consensus Guidelines

NEW YORK, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A national coalition of more than 80 leading child welfare stakeholders have announced the most comprehensive guidelines ever to ensure quality care and accountability for mental health services provided to children and youth in the child welfare system.

The landmark "Mental Health Practice Guidelines for Child Welfare" publication provides clear direction on identifying, assessing and treating youth in foster care with serious behavioral and mental health problems. The guidelines address five key areas related to the mental health of these youth: screening and assessment, psychosocial interventions, psychopharmacologic interventions, parent support and youth empowerment.

"By addressing such key issues as family and youth empowerment, and proper use of psychotropic medications, the guidelines are a major addition to what was previously available to caregivers and policymakers," according to Dr. Peter Jensen, President of The Reach Institute, which coordinated the guideline development process with funding from Casey Family Programs (CFP) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF).

Overall, the guidelines stress the importance of making sure children and families in foster care receive the highest quality treatment. This is meant to draw attention to the often overlooked fact that this population is at high risk of costly, long-term mental health problems.

According to Dr. Peter J. Pecora, senior director of research at CFP, "Multiple studies show youth in the child welfare system use mental health services at very high rates across all age groups. The new guidelines aim to help child welfare agencies more effectively address the mental health needs of this vulnerable population."

The guidelines were unveiled during the Child Welfare League of America (CWL
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SOURCE The REACH Institute
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