Mental Health And Foster Care

Picture of Written by Susanna

Written by Susanna

Communications Coordinator


Here at Good Samaritan, we talk a lot about mental health.

Often, the foster youth we work with come from backgrounds where they have experienced trauma and neglect. We have some amazing, trauma-informed therapists on our team who ensure our youth get the care and treatment they need. On the Ranch side of our programs, the young men participate in intensive therapy as a part of their treatment goals. For many, this is the first time they have ever experienced this level of mental health treatment. Alongside their therapists, they work through trauma, learn coping skills, and begin to heal.

So, why are we bringing this up? Well, mental health struggles are widespread among children in foster care. In fact, children who have spent time in the foster care system more often than not, also experience mental health issues. Foster care and mental health are not two separate topics—they exist alongside one another. 

However, children and youth in foster care often do not receive the services they need. Consistent, quality mental health services can change the life of a child in foster care. However, lack of access and awareness about this issue can create barriers. This is why awareness is so crucial to creating change.  

With that in mind, here are four important statistics related to foster care and mental health: 

1. 80% of children in the foster care system struggle with a mental health issue.

To put this into perspective, around 18-22% of children in the general population suffer from a mental health issue.  

2. Less than 25% of children in foster care receive any mental health services after a year in state custody. 

Foster children Youth in foster care are struggling with mental health at much higher rates than their peers but are not receiving adequate services after they enter state custody. If anything, this statistic highlights a gap that still needs to be filled for foster children.  

3. Children and youth in foster care are diagnosed with PTSD at twice the rate of US war veterans. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a debilitating reality for so many children and youth in foster care. If a child has experienced trauma in their life, they may experience PTSD when that trauma is triggered. Awareness and treatment of PTSD among foster children needs to be a priority. 

4. Roughly 20,000 youth age out of foster care every year with significant mental health needs and without the support of family. 

Unfortunately, when mental health issues go untreated by the time a youth ages out of foster care, they are at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness or incarceration. Helping foster youth manage their mental health is crucial to helping them achieve success as they age out and become independent.  

These statistics are sobering, but this is not a hopeless scenario. Mental health issues are treatable, especially when caught early. Ensuring that children in foster care receive adequate support will require increased awareness and advocacy among the general population – people just like you and me. Together we can make a difference by bringing awareness to the lack of mental health services available to youth in foster care and advocate for change

To learn more about Good Samaritan and our available resources, click here

Statistics sourced from