for people ages 12-17 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D
Headshot of Marina Tolou-Shams
Marina Tolou-Shams



This study will focus on developing and testing a family-based mental health navigator intervention, the Foster Care Family Navigator (FCFN), to evaluate whether the intervention combined with mHealth would be efficacious in improving mental health service initiation and engagement for child welfare-involved youth.


The study will demonstrate how a family-based navigator intervention combined with mHealth may lead to improved mental health treatment initiation and engagement among child welfare-involved (CWI) youth. CWI youth have high rates of mental health symptoms relative to youth in the community, and are disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities, only perpetuating disparities in this population's mental health access and engagement. The proposed project will develop and test a family-based navigator intervention, the Foster Care Family Navigator (FCFN), a natural fit for improving CWI youth mental health service and clinical outcomes. The study will start with identifying the feasibility and acceptability of the FCFN intervention. Then, the study will determine whether the FCFN intervention improves CWI youth mental health treatment initiation and engagement, relative to standard of care (not participating in FCFN intervention). Finally, the study will characterize patterns of pre- and post-service outcomes along the behavioral health services cascade of care, to further evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary impact of the FCFN model.


Mental Health, Adolescent, Foster Care, Navigator, Service Access, Family-based mental health navigation


You can join if…

Open to people ages 12-17

  • English-speaking youth
  • Ages 12-17
  • Have an active dependency petition with the SF Unified Family Court (newly filed or existing when the trial starts)
  • Are open to SF DPH Foster Care Mental Health Clinic services
  • Have an involved caregiver/legal guardian for consent
  • Family has mobile phone access

You CAN'T join if...

  • Youth is not English-speaking
  • Caregiver has impairment that would preclude providing informed consent
  • Unavailable guardian for consent


  • UCSF Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94131 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D
    Dr. Tolou-Shams is the Kilroy Realty Professor of Psychiatry and Vice Chair of Community Engagement, Outreach and Advocacy in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DPBS) at UCSF. She is also Deputy Vice Chair for Research in the DPBS at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG).


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Expecting 125 study participants
Last Updated