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Multiple assessors of child welfare youths' mental‐health functioning: comparing perceptions of adolescents, caregivers and teachers

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


For youth involved with the child welfare system, accurate assessment of mental‐health functioning is a critical factor in case planning. To assess correspondence among multiple reporters of child welfare youths' mental‐health difficulties, this study, using data drawn from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well‐being dataset, examined the caregiver, teacher and youth (aged 11–16 years) reports on the Child Behavior Checklist (n = 464). Perceptions about symptomatology on a variety of externalizing and internalizing behaviour problem scales were measured with a correlation analysis. Subsequently, logistic regression models were created, which explored how each reporter category matched a fourth reporter category: the child welfare investigation caseworkers' identification of youths' mental‐health needs. Results show that in several models, the odds of matching caseworkers' determination of youths' mental‐health needs significantly increased as youths' perceptions of psychopathology increased. A similar pattern was found for caregivers' perceptions in some of the models, across both internalizing and externalizing domains. Implications for child welfare practice and research with child welfare youth are discussed.