SOS Illinois Raises Awareness for the Mental Health of Children in Foster Care

children in foster care

SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is raising awareness for mental health October 1st-5th in an effort to ensure children in foster care have the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. With teen drug use and suicide rates rapidly climbing, it’s more imperative than ever that our communities unite together in awareness of the mental health epidemic and learn how we can move forward in ways that will support, assist and aid our youth in foster care so that they may successfully overcome their struggles with mental health.

We place great importance on the mental health of the children in our care. That’s why SOS Illinois has a dedicated team of clinicians that provide trauma-informed therapeutic services for each of the children and families we serve.

Children in Foster Care are 60% More Likely to Struggle with a Mental Health Condition

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Foster Care American Initiative, mental and behavioral health is the “greatest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.” The statistics for children in foster care in relation to mental health issues are alarming in relation to those outside of foster care. Those who have spent time in foster care are:

  • 5x more likely to have PTSD
  • 4x more likely to have a panic disorder
  • 3x more likely to have a drug or alcohol dependency
  • 1.5x more likely to have a major depressive episode

Psychotropic Medications Prescribed Present Alarming Concerns

Medications such as mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety prescriptions, antipsychotics and stimulants are being prescribed to youth in foster care as a method of treatment for behavioral and mental health issues in children as young as 3 years of age.

Research has identified alarming concerns in relation to the administration of these psychotropic medications, including the fact that oftentimes multiple medications are used simultaneously from the onset of treatment.

The SOS Illinois Village model of care presents daily, regular opportunities for youth in foster care to obtain guidance, counseling and support that offers a stable environment centered around the healing of traumatic events in their lives so that they may break free from the limitations set by their mental health conditions and eliminate their dependency on psychotropic medications.

The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Seeks to Closely Monitor Administration of Psychotropic Medications

This Act was brought into effect in 2011 and requires that State Child and Family Services Plans includes details of how emotional trauma associated with maltreatment for foster children is addressed, including details on how psychotropic medication usage is monitored.

You can read more about the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act here.

In addition to the monitoring of psychotropic medication usage, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 requires that each state consult with pediatricians and additional experts in order to develop a plan for the coordination and oversight of medical and mental health services for children in foster care.

SOS Illinois Provides Opportunities for Healing and Longevity

Each child that enters our Villages has a dedicated support system from the very start. From our full-time Foster Parents to our on-site clinicians, therapists, mentors, case managers, support staff and more, the youth in our care are able to find safety and security in knowing they’re surrounded by a community that only wants the best for them.

These children are offered a real chance at renewing their sense of trust and hope. They’re also able to heal from the traumas of their past while gaining footing on steady ground in an effort to provide them the confidence, skills and resources they need in order to become responsible and caring adults.

Help SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Raise Awareness for Mental Health

Please join us October 2nd and 3rd, 2018 as we gather for a special event and speaking session in honor of raising awareness for mental health in children in foster care.

Screening of “The Resilience Project” Event
Includes showing of “The Resilience Project,” a discussion led by Dr. Jackie Samuel, and lunch

October 2 – 11AM to 1PM at Chicago Village (7600 S. Parnell Ave.) &
October 3 – 11AM to 1PM Lockport Village (17545 Village Lane)

Also, October 4 will be our wear green day in support of mental health awareness. Sport your green, take a photo, and email it to tcisarik@sosillinois.org to share on social media.

About “The Resilience Project”

RESILIENCE: THE BIOLOGY OF STRESS & THE SCIENCE OF HOPE chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities, who are using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.

Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. Resilience, however, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education, and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress—and the dark legacy of a childhood that no child would choose.  For more information, visit https://kpjrfilms.co/resilience/.

About Dr. Jackie Samuel

Dr. Samuel is currently faculty at National Louis University and has been the director of CPS’ Safe Passage Program and the South Chicago/South Shore Ceasefire program, as well as working in housing and youth development programming. She is a member of the IL ACEs Response Collaborative and is an excellent resource for information about resilience and prevention methods.  To learn more about Dr. Samuel, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc5bORJmB0Y.

If you are interested in contributing to support the services our clinical therapists provide to the children and families in our care, please visit our Giving page here.