Changes in Externalizing and Internalizing Problems of Adolescents in Foster Care


  • This article was edited by Cheryl Buehler.

Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program, Department of Family and Child Sciences, Florida State University, 210 Sandals Building, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1491 (


Using a developmental psychopathology framework, this study aimed to examine changes in externalizing and internalizing problems of adolescents in foster care and to determine whether type of maltreatment, gender, and age influenced trajectories. Authors used 3 waves of data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Growth-curve analyses of 106 adolescents aged 13–16 in foster care revealed that externalizing and internalizing problems decreased over time. Adolescents, particularly boys, placed in foster care as a result of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect demonstrated faster decreases in externalizing problems and, similarly but to a weaker degree, internalizing problems than did those placed in foster care as a result of other forms of maltreatment.