Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Jan Faust

Second Advisor

Ryan Black

Third Advisor

Barry Nierenberg


Child maltreatment, Foster care


INTRODUCTION: As evidenced in the literature, when maltreated children are admitted into state care, they are frequently not afforded sufficient mental health treatment. Concomitantly, foster parents are often not given proper training in providing complex care for these children. As such, the current study aimed to examine the role that foster care has in the development of psychopathology in maltreated children and their caregivers. METHODS: Participants included 234 maltreated youths (ages 7 to 17) presenting for treatment at a community mental health center specializing in childhood trauma. Children and adolescents currently residing in foster care as well as in their biological home environments were included. RESULTS: Results of multiple regression models indicated that a history of foster care plays a significant role in the association between children and adolescents who have witnessed domestic violence and internalizing disorders, externalizing disorders, and parenting stress. DISCUSSION: Results from this study revealed that a lack of foster care history plays a significant role in moderating the development of psychopathology in children and adolescents who have witnessed domestic violence. This association was also found with parenting stress. Future research needs to further explicate the specific roles that a child’s living situation can play in future psychological impairment.

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