Prevalence and predictors of emotional and behavioral problems reported by teachers among institutionally reared children and adolescents in Turkish orphanages compared with community controls
ABSTRACT We examined the prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems and associated risk and protective factors among children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 years reared in orphanages in Turkey (n = 461, 87.9% of all eligible subjects) compared with a nationally representative community sample of similarly-aged youngsters brought up by their own families (n = 2280). Using the 90th percentile as the cut-off criterion, it was found that the Teacher's Report Form (TRF) Total Problem score was higher for children and adolescents in orphanage care than in the community (23.2%, orphanage v. 11%, community). Multiple regression models explained 73% of the total variance of TRF Total Problems score for children and adolescents in orphanages. Regular contact with parents or relatives, between classroom teachers and orphanage staff, appropriate task involvement, perceived social support and competency were significant protective factors against emotional and behavioral problems. Younger age at first admission, being small for age, and feelings of stigmatization were associated with higher TRF Problem Scores (P < .05). Parental psychiatric disorder was unrelated to emotional and behavioral problems in children reflecting that psychosocial adversity and parenting problems in of themselves lead to institutionalization, irrespective of identifiable parental mental disorder. The findings are interpreted in the light of an urgent need for development of early intervention programs that promote community care of children by preventing separation from families, provision of support services for families in need, and development of counseling programs to prevent abandonment, abuse and neglect. Finding ways for child welfare professionals to collaborate more closely with early intervention programs would also increase the viable opportunities and rights of children and adolescents currently cared for in the system. Finally, alternative cost-effective care models need to be promoted including foster care or adoption systems and family based homes in the community.