The interaction of friendship difficulty and foster status and its association with mental health.

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Abstract

Children in foster care are disproportionately affected by mental health conditions. Similarly, children in foster care are more likely to have difficulty with friendships. However, it is unclear how these experiences interact with one another. In this paper, I explore the interaction between friendship difficulty and foster status and how this interaction associates with mental health status. I use data from the National Survey of Childhood Health 2016-2018 combined waves to analyze a sample of 117,718 children ages 6-17 in a series of logistic regressions. I find that being a child in foster care and having difficulty in friendship are significantly associated with having a mental health condition. Additionally, I find that having difficulty in friendship has a different relationship with the mental health of children in foster care compared to all other children. I discuss implications of these findings and how future research can further explore this topic.

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Mental health. Foster care. Friendship.

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