The objective was to determine if Spanish foster care children and Spanish non-foster children differ on sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), ADHD-inattention (IN), ADHD-hyperactivity/impulsivity (HI), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), limited prosocial emotions (LPE), anxiety, depression, social and academic impairment measures and if the duration of foster care predicts a reduction in symptom and impairment differences between foster and non-foster care children.
Foster care parents of 49 children (8 to 13 years, 57% girls) and non-foster care mothers and fathers of 1776 children (8 to 13 years, 49% girls) completed the Child and Adolescent Behavior Inventory (CABI).
Foster care children had significantly higher scores on all symptom and impairment measures than non-foster care mother and father groups (d values from 0.37 to 1.53). A longer duration in foster care (range 8 to 86 months) was also associated with significant lower scores on SCT, ADHD-IN, anxiety, depression, and academic impairment. In addition, while foster care children with a shorter duration in foster care (less than medium months) had significantly higher scores than the non-foster care groups on all measures (d values from 0.66 to 2.25), children with a longer duration in foster care did not differ from the non-foster care groups on anxiety, depression, ADHD-IN, ADHD-HI, LPE, social and academic impairment.
Although foster care children had elevated psychopathology and impairment scores relative to non-foster care children, a longer stay in foster care was associated with the elimination of the difference on most symptom and impairment measures.