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Abstract

Girls in foster care have poorer mental health outcomes than boys in care. Genderspecific barriers to effective mental health care have been seldom identified in current literature. This thesis seeks to explore these barriers through interviews with six caseworkers in the Cook County foster care system. Through these interviews, themes of barriers relating to resources, provider quality, youth in care, and caregivers emerged. This paper proposes several reforms for the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services and outlines an integrated-services model for a third party not-for-profit organization to mitigate barriers to girls’ mental health care and improve the quality of care that girls receive.

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