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Parental substance abuse and the development of children in family foster care.

by T McNichol, C Tash
Child welfare


To determine the impact of parental substance abuse on children, the cognitive skills and behavior ratings of 268 school-age children placed in family foster care were examined. As a group, the children in family foster care presented with low average cognitive skills and made significant improvement in cognitive functioning during placement. The children with prenatal exposure to drugs scored significantly lower in cognitive skills at the beginning of placement but made significantly more progress than the other children during placement. Behavior ratings by the foster parents and teachers revealed that 29% of the children had scores in the significant range, and the children exposed prenatally to drugs had a higher incidence of behavior problems at school compared to family foster care peers. Recommendations for further study of these factors and for enhancing outcomes for children in care are provided.

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