Children mental health follow-up in youth communities of the SOS-Children’s Village  [presentation, ppt, 242 kB]

Rajhvajn Bulat L., Branica V.
First author's affiliation: Department of Social Work, Faculty of Law, Zagreb, Croatia

Mental health of children is influenced by the social environment and subject to different stresses that are more intensive in children who are growing up in some form of public care. The SOS-Children’s Village in Croatia is one of such forms of placing children under public care. A part of the results obtained from a comprehensive 5 year long research on behavior and feelings of children in public care will be presented. This research covered a total of 493 children placed in children's homes, 112 in foster homes and 187 in alternative forms of care (Nuevo Futuro and SOS-Children's Village). Results of 57 children and youth examinees from the youth communities of the SOS-Children's Village Croatia who participated in test and retest parts of the research (between a 5 year interval). The average age of children in the first measurement was 13 and 18 at the second. A total of 23 boys and 34 girls were interviewed. Two identical instruments were used as indicators of children's mental health: Youth self-report ( Achenbach,1991) filled by children and youth and the Child behavior check-list (Achenbach, 1991) filled by educators. The results have shown that the test-retest correlations on most sub-scales of mental health of children are statistically relevant, but this relevance ranges from low to middle. Also, the comparison of results obtained in 2003 with those obtained in 2008 show that educators evaluate that mental health of boys at the retest point has improved. In self-evaluation girls give evidence of their increasing externalization of problems (show a more delinquent and aggressive behavior). These results have additional weight as girls also stated that they feel more everyday stress than 5 years ago, and boys and girls both state that they feel less social support than before. At the end of the presentation, the measurement of mental health from different sources will be discussed, since results have shown that the evaluation of identical indicators of mental health by children and by educators have relatively low correlation (ranges from 0.02 to 0.37).