Direct social support for young high risk children: relations with behavioral and emotional outcomes across time.
ABSTRACT This study is unique in addressing developmental correlates of direct social support for young children in a high risk sample, in contrast to previous studies addressing social support for caregivers. Participants were drawn from a prospective, longitudinal study of at-risk children. Social support was rated from maternal interviews throughout early childhood. Support from the mother was assessed from mother-child observations. Outcomes included internalizing and externalizing behavior problems measured from first through tenth grades. The most common support providers were biological fathers, followed by grandparents and other providers. Using multilevel modeling, higher quantity, higher quality, and lower disruption of support predicted lower starting levels of behavior problems, controlling for support from the mother. Disruption was associated with change in slope. Gender differences were found for externalizing behavior intercepts. Social support provides a promotive factor for young high risk children. Implications include involving children's social support providers in prevention and intervention programs.