Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Roberta Carrlson


Purpose: Children in foster care are considered an at-risk population for developmental delays, due to their life experiences (Fraser et al., 2017; Jacobsen et al., 2013; Mueller et al., 2010; Oral et al., 2016; Ryan et al., 2017; Wade et al., 2017). The purpose of this scholarly project was to identify the needs of these children specifically in the regions of the University of North Dakota’s Occupational Therapy Program’s campuses. The campuses are located in Grand Forks, North Dakota and Casper, Wyoming. Currently, there is an increase of children entering the foster care systems in ND and WY (Casey Family Programs, 2019; North Dakota Department of Human Services, 2016). A literature review concluded there are no routine procedures in place to screen these children for developmental delays (Hodges et al., 2016). Therefore, needs of foster care children are going undetected. Occupational therapists are trained professionals which can help detect these children’s needs (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2019b). Additionally, occupational therapy students are in the midst of receiving their training and have been deemed an appropriate group to implement screening procedures (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2019b). By screening children in foster care, students would be engaging in active and service learning experiences, which are proven to benefit the student as an emerging professional (Hodges et al., 2016) Thus, the authors of this scholarly project created an elective educational course for the University of North Dakota’s Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program’s students to screen children in foster care. It is titled OT 599: Special Topics Occupational Therapy Screening Process. To propose this course to foster care agencies, an evidenced-based presentation was created via PowerPoint.

Methodology: An extensive literature review was conducted through databases provided by UND including PubMed, CINAHL, and ERIC. Additional credible resources utilized were the American Occupational Therapy Association, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, North Dakota’s Department of Human Services, and Casey Family Programs. The model that guided the development of this scholarly project was the Ecology of Human Performance (Dunn, Brown & McGuigan, 1994). The literature review included topics such as the impacts of trauma on childhood development, the role of occupational therapy with the foster care system, occupational therapy and foster care screening procedures, and student learning in higher education.

Results: There were two products created: an elective course for UND OTD students and a presentation to propose this course to foster care agencies in the Grand Forks, ND and Wyoming, WY regions. These products were created to fulfill the developmental needs of children in foster care while concurrently providing OT students an active and service learning opportunity to support their educational experience towards becoming an OT practitioner.

Conclusion: This scholarly project will be presented to the UND Occupational Therapy Department and foster care agencies in the regions of the UND OT campuses with hopes of being implemented into the curriculum. The proposed active and service learning experience will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the OT screening process, while offering services to the at-risk population of children in foster care.