Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 108–120 | Cite as

Identifying Psychosocial Problems Among Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System Using the PSC-17: Exploring Convergent and Discriminant Validity with Multiple Informants

  • Elizabeth M. ParkerEmail author
  • Jedediah Jacobson
  • Michael D. Pullmann
  • Suzanne E. U. Kerns
Original Article


Youth who enter foster care are at risk of mental health need, but questions arise as to the validity of their self-reported symptomatology. This study examines the screening validity of the youth-report version of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 (PSC-17) in a child welfare population. Data come from 2389 youth who completed a version of the PSC-17 adapted for youth report, and their biological and foster parents who completed the parent-report version. Youth also completed a shortened version of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED). Convergent and discriminant validity of the PSC-17 was assessed using multi-trait multi-method matrices. The PSC-17’s internalizing subscale was strongly correlated, attention subscale was moderately correlated, and externalizing subscale was weakly correlated with the SCARED’s anxiety and PTSD subscales. Comparing youth and foster parent scores, the PSC-17 had moderate convergent validity and weak/fair discriminant validity. Comparing youth, foster parent, and biological parent scores, the PSC-17 had moderate convergent validity and weak/fair discriminant validity. The current study provides some support for the validity of the PSC-17 for the population of youth in foster care.


Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 Parent-youth agreement Child welfare Psychosocial screening 



This study was funded by Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau (HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CO-0279).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth M. Parker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jedediah Jacobson
    • 1
  • Michael D. Pullmann
    • 1
  • Suzanne E. U. Kerns
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of Denver Graduate School of Social WorkDenverUSA

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