Children and Youth Services Review

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 0190-7409
Publications
Article
Historically, girls have been less delinquent than boys. However, increased justice system involvement among girls and current portrayals of girls in the popular media and press suggest that girls' delinquency, particularly their violence and drug use, is becoming more similar to that of boys. Are girls really becoming more delinquent? To date, this question remains unresolved. Girls' increased system involvement might reflect actual changes in their behavior or changes in justice system policies and practices. Given that girls of color are overrepresented in the justice system, efforts to rigorously examine the gender convergence hypothesis must consider the role of race/ethnicity in girls' delinquency. This study uses self-report data from a large, nationally representative sample of youth to investigate the extent to which the magnitude of gender differences in violence and substance use varies across racial/ethnic groups and explore whether these differences have decreased over time. We find little support for the gender convergence hypothesis, because, with a few exceptions, the data do not show increases in girls' violence or drug use. Furthermore, even when girls' violent behavior or drug use has increased, the magnitude of the increase is not substantial enough to account for the dramatic increases in girls' arrests for violence and drug abuse violations.
 
Article
This study examined how one of the oldest and most widely distributed child welfare practice journals addressed children's mental health issues over a 25-year period. The content of 478 articles was coded. Logistic regression findings indicate that mental health issues were discussed less frequently over the first half of the period examined, and then more frequently over the last decade. Residential treatment was discussed less frequently over time, but other community-based alternatives to residential treatment were rarely discussed at any point, so that overall the content related to treatment of mental health issues decreased as discussion of residential treatment decreased. These findings suggest that although the child welfare literature has recently focused more on children's mental health, dissemination of specific concepts from the mental health to the child welfare literature does not naturally occur over time. Efforts targeted at dissemination of effective community-based mental health interventions for foster children may be needed to support this process.
 
Article
Chronic school absenteeism and frequent school changes, particularly among younger children, may be antecedents for the high rates of school failure and subsequent dropout among youth in foster care. However, the relationship of foster care experience to absenteeism and school change has not been well studied. This study examined the association of placement experience with absenteeism and changing schools among 209 urban children in foster care enrolled in public elementary schools. A cohort of children aged 5 to 8 years who entered non-relative or kinship foster care from 2006-2008 were followed longitudinally for 2 years from entry into foster care. Children residing in foster care were categorized at the end of the study as early stable, late stable, or unstable, if they achieved a permanent placement prior to 45 days, between 45 days and 9 months, or failed to do so within 9 months, respectively. Children who reunified home were classified as a fourth category. Poisson regression, controlling for baseline factors, was used to compare days absent and number of schools attended across categories of placement experience. Among the 209 children, 51% were male, 79% were African American, and 55% were initially placed with kin. One third of children reunified home; among children who did not reunify, one half was early stable, and a third was unstable. Adjusted rates of school absenteeism increased in stepwise fashion as children's placements became more unstable; children with unstable placements were 37% more likely to be absent than those with early placement stability (p=0.029). Children who reunified during the study demonstrated the highest rates of absenteeism; however, there was no significant difference in absenteeism before or after reunification. Number of schools attended increased as stability worsened, with the standardized rate of schools attended reaching 3.6 schools (95% CI 3.1-4.1) over a two year period among children in unstable placements. The relationship between placement experience and school absenteeism and school change illustrates the need to better coordinate the educational experience of high-risk children in foster care. The secondary finding of high absenteeism among children in the process of returning home illustrates that educational challenges for youth may be equally if not more concerning among the greater majority of youth in child welfare who remain home with birth parents.
 
Article
The current study examined the threshold at which multidisciplinary child protection team (CPT) professionals substantiate physical abuse allegations and the extent that they utilize potentially biased constructs in their decision making when presented with the same case evidence. State legal definitions of child maltreatment are broad. Therefore, the burden of interpretation is largely on CPT professionals who must determine at what threshold physical acts by parents surpass corporal discipline and constitute child physical abuse. Biased or subjective decisions may be made if certain case-specific characteristics or CPT professionals' personal characteristics are used in making physical abuse determinations. Case vignettes with visual depictions of inflicted injuries were sent to CPT professionals in Florida and their substantiation decisions, personal beliefs about corporal discipline, and coercive discipline were collected. Results of the study demonstrated relatively high agreement among professionals across vignettes about what constitutes physical abuse. Further, CPT professionals strongly considered their perceptions of the severity of inflicted injuries in substantiation decisions. Although case specific characteristics did not bias decisions in a systematic way, some CPT professional characteristics influenced the substantiation of physical abuse. Practice implications and future directions of research are discussed.
 
Article
The role of subsequent school contexts in the long-term effects of early childhood interventions has received increasing attention, but has been understudied in the literature. Using data from the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP), a cluster-randomized controlled trial conducted in Head Start programs, we investigate whether the intervention had differential effects on academic and behavioral outcomes in kindergarten if children attended high- or low-performing schools subsequent to the preschool intervention year. To address the issue of selection bias, we adopt an innovative method, principal score matching, and control for a set of child, mother, and classroom covariates. We find that exposure to the CSRP intervention in the Head Start year had significant effects on academic and behavioral outcomes in kindergarten for children who subsequently attended high-performing schools, but no significant effects on children attending low-performing schools. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.
 
Article
While research has established that depression interferes with academic achievement, less is understood about the processes by which social relationships may buffer the relationship between depression and academic outcomes. In this study we examined the role of positive relationships in the school, family and peer contexts in the association between depressive symptoms and academic achievement among 894 adolescents aged 12-17 years living in Santiago, Chile. Depressive symptoms were associated with lower levels of academic achievement; parental monitoring, school belonging, positive mother relationships, and having academically inclined peers moderated this relationship, though some interactions differed by sex and age. Implications for promoting the academic success of adolescents experiencing depressive symptoms are discussed.
 
Article
Girls in foster care may face difficulties across the transition to middle school. Latent growth curve modeling was employed to examine trajectories and predictors of academic competence and aggression from and against peers for 75 girls in foster care from the end of elementary school to the 2(nd) year of middle school. Across the transition to middle school, academic competence increased. Poor self-regulation was associated with decreased academic competence, and higher caregiver support was associated with increased academic competence. Frequency of aggression from peers decreased across the transition, with perceived school competence predicting smaller decreases. Aggression against peers dropped initially and then increased to pretransition levels by the end of the 2(nd) year of middle school. Lower caregiver support was associated with higher rates of aggression against peers at the end of the 1(st) year of middle school. The results are discussed in terms of implications for interventions for girls in foster care.
 
Article
North Carolina is one of a growing number of states to implement family meeting models in child welfare as a way to engage families, while simultaneously addressing complex familial needs and child safety issues. However, much is still unknown regarding how family meetings actually operate in child welfare, underscoring a clear need for further evaluation of this process. Utilizing direct observational data of Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings, collected as part of two separate evaluations of the North Carolina Division of Social Service's Multiple Response System (MRS) and System of Care (SOC) initiatives, the purpose of the current study was to examine whether the support provided by SOC improved fidelity to the CFT model in child welfare. The observations were conducted using the Team Observation Measure consisting of 78 indicators that measure adherence to ten domains associated with high quality family team meetings (e.g., collaborative, individualized, natural supports, outcomes based, strengths-based). Findings indicate that receiving SOC support in child welfare leads to a more collaborative and individualized decision-making process with families. Meeting facilitators in SOC counties were better prepared for CFTs, and had greater ability to lead a more robust and creative brainstorming process to develop a family-driven case plan. The current study also provides a much needed description of the CFT meeting process within child welfare using a direct observational measure.
 
Article
Maternal substance abuse is a critical problem, and adolescent mothers appear to be at high risk for such behaviors. We review studies on postpartum adolescent substance use to explore the extent of this problem and avenues for new research. Authors screened 1,300 studies, identifying 12 articles on substance use among postpartum adolescent mothers for this review. Adolescent mothers reported greater substance use before pregnancy compared to other adolescent females. Although some adolescents continued substance use during pregnancy, most stopped using only to resume within six months after birth. Comparisons of use to national samples of nulliparous adolescent females showed a higher prevalence of substance use in this population. Substances used often varied by race/ethnicity, with white mothers more likely to smoke cigarettes and use marijuana, and Black mothers more likely than whites to drink and use drugs. Of all identified studies, only one focused on Hispanics. Beliefs about drug use grew less negative as girls transitioned from pregnancy to parenthood. As they transitioned to adulthood, substance use remained prevalent and stable. Psychological distress and low self-esteem appeared to influence continued use. Friends' cigarette smoking predicted early initiation of and persistent smoking, while increased education predicted quitting. Early initiation of substances often predicted problem behaviors. Adolescent mothers are a vulnerable population, implicating use of problem behavior theory or the self-medication hypothesis in future research. Multiple avenues for new studies are needed to help identify effective treatment and intervention for this understudied population.
 
Article
PIP This article presents a biophysical perspective on adolescent sexual feelings and behavior. The study particularly analyzes sexual attraction, desire, and mate selection as evolutionary adaptations just as important to species survival. Sex differences in mating strategies are described as part of this evolutionary adaptation. Recent research findings demonstrate how these strategies explain contemporary sexual and reproductive behavior in Western societies today, as they do sexual behavior in the past or across diverse cultures. The implications of this analysis are significant to intervention efforts to postpone sexual initiation and avert nonmarital births. Discussion on demographic and normative changes that affect adolescent sexual behavior included trends in sexual maturation and changing marriage norms. The author urges greater emphasis on the early pubertal years; increased attention to teaching adolescents more about their own sexual development; a less absolutist focus on sexual abstinence, which may be appropriate and more feasible for 12 year olds but not for 16 year olds; better and more widespread sex education at earlier ages and throughout the school curriculum; frank discussion of all the options available for those who experience an unwanted pregnancy; and same level of attention towards adolescent boys and girls.
 
Article
The juvenile justice system faces a difficult challenge when providing services to serious adolescent offenders, having to balance community safety concerns with hopes for successful intervention. Increasing the effectiveness of this system rests partially on having a clearer picture of the regularities of current service provision to these adolescents. This study describes the types of services received by a large (N=868) sample of adjudicated serious offenders from two metropolitan areas over a two-year follow-up period after adjudication in court, and examines whether indicators of need for services determine the types of services received in the juvenile justice system. Findings indicate that: 1) the level of specialized services received is rather low, 2) there is considerable site variability, 3) the service needs of adolescents sent to different types of settings appear to be generally equivalent, 4) state training schools appear to provide about the same level of services found in contracted provider settings, and 5) need is an inconsistent determinant of service provision.
 
Article
Mental health service underutilization among African American adolescents is well documented, yet not fully understood. Discordance between adolescents and their parents on perceived need for seeing a counselor for an emotional need or psychiatrist for psychiatric or medical services may help explain low service use among this population. This exploratory, prospective study examined the relationship between parent-adolescent concordance on perceived need for emotional counseling or psychiatric services and mental health service use. The relationships between gender and perceived service need and concordance and adolescent severity of depressive symptoms were also explored. Parent-adolescent dyads (n=108) receiving community-based adolescent outpatient mental health services responded to interview questions concerning their perception of whether an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist were needed in the past six months. Findings revealed low parent-adolescent concordance on perceived need for an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist. A greater proportion of adolescents reported a need than parents. There was no association between gender and perceived need for an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist. Lower rates of parent-adolescent concordance were found among youth reporting elevated depressive symptoms compared to youth reporting normal range symptoms. Concordant dyads kept a higher number of appointments than discordant dyads. Implications for clinical social work practice and future research are discussed.
 
Article
Lower levels of parental monitoring are associated with youth problem behaviors, including substance use and delinquency. Recent studies employing routine activities theory have hypothesized that greater densities of alcohol outlets, particularly bars, may provide parents more opportunities to socialize outside the home. This, in turn, may decrease a parent's ability to effectively monitor the activities of his or her child, resulting in more deviant behaviors by the adolescent. Using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), the current study assesses whether or not greater densities of alcohol outlets in zip code areas (n = 50) interact with levels of parental monitoring to affect levels of deviance among adolescents aged 14 to 16 (n = 1,541). The study finds that adolescents who have higher grade point averages and have not used alcohol report the lowest levels of deviant behaviors. Furthermore, the density of bars interacts with reports of parental monitoring such that adolescents in areas with more bars per roadway mile report lower levels of parental monitoring behaviors, which is associated with higher levels of deviance. These findings suggest that in those areas with greater densities of bars parents may be spending more time away from home, making monitoring of their adolescents more difficult, or parents may be drinking more frequently, thus impairing their ability to adequately monitor their children. Policies and practices that limit the number of bars in neighborhood areas with large populations of adolescents may reduce deviant behaviors.
 
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Article
We examine the impact of social capital on savings and educational performance of orphaned adolescents participating in a family-level economic strengthening program in Uganda. Findings indicate that if given the opportunity, poor families in Uganda will use financial institutions to save for the education of their adolescent youth. Moreover, although the results are mixed, overall, adolescents with higher levels of social capital and social support, including participation in youth groups, are likely to report better saving performance compared to their counterparts with lower levels of social capital and social support. The results point to: (1) the role for family-economic strengthening programs specifically focused on improving the educational outcomes of orphaned adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, and (2) the need for adolescents to be encouraged to participate in youth groups since these groups seem to offer the much needed supportive informal institutional structure for positive adolescent outcomes.
 
Article
This study investigated the role of discrepancies between parent and youth reports of perceived parental monitoring in adolescent problem behaviors with a Chilean sample (N= 850). Higher levels of discordance concerning parental monitoring predicted greater levels of maladaptive youth behaviors. A positive association between parent-youth discordance and externalizing problems indicated that large adult-youth disagreement in parental monitoring may impose a great risk, despite protective efforts of parental monitoring. Although the direct relationship between parental monitoring and youth internalizing behaviors was not significant, parent-youth incongruence in monitoring was associated with greater levels of internalizing behaviors. Therefore, differing assessments of parental behaviors, as an indicator of less optimal family functioning, may provide important information about youth maladjustment and may potentially provide a beginning point for family-focused intervention.
 
Article
AIDS-orphaned children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa have inadequate access to basic services, including health and education. Using a qualitative approach, the study explores the meaning of education in rural Uganda, obstacles faced by AIDS-orphaned adolescents and their caregivers to access secondary education, and the potential of an economic empowerment intervention SEED in addressing the challenges of accessing educational opportunities for AIDS-orphaned adolescents. The findings come from 29 semi-structured interviews conducted with eleven adolescents study participants, four caregivers and fourteen community leaders involved in the pilot SEED intervention. Study participants and community members indicated that the savings accounts offer a unique opportunity for orphaned adolescents to stay in school and imagine the future with optimism.
 
Article
Microsystem risk and protective factors associated with early sexual intercourse among low-income adolescents were assessed using bioecological theory and a risk and resiliency framework. Waves 1 and 2 of Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study were used (N=984, 10-14 years). Findings showed age, gender, race, two-parent households, separated households, households where the mother formed a union between waves, transitioning onto welfare between waves, and delinquency increased the odds that adolescents were sexually active. Protective factors for early sexual activity included maternal education and father involvement. Risk factors for early sexual debut were age, gender, race, two-parent households, separated households, and delinquency. A protective factor for early sexual debut was maternal education. Findings differed by gender, race, and race*gender. Policy implications include increasing social and human capital among low-income mothers to promote family stability and providing diversified sexual education programs due to gender differences.
 
Article
This study examined profiles of involvement in four systems (education, child welfare, legal, and treatment) in a sample of 253 high-risk urban adolescents with unmet behavioral health needs. Self-report data were collected on multiple dimensions of involvement within each system, demographics, and DSM-IV diagnoses. Latent class analysis revealed four profiles: Education System: Academic and Disciplinary, Education System: Academic Only, Legal/Juvenile Justice Involved, and Multiple Systems/Child Welfare. Profiles differed based on gender and psychiatric diagnoses. Boys were overrepresented in Education System: Academic and Disciplinary and Legal/Juvenile Justice Involved, and girls were overrepresented in Multiple Systems/Child Welfare. The two education system focused classes were characterized by depressive disorders and ADHD. Youth in Legal/Juvenile Justice Involved and Multiple Systems/Child Welfare were characterized by conduct disorder and substance abuse. Implications for assessment and treatment planning for high-risk youth and for the organization of community-based behavioral health services are discussed.
 
Article
We draw upon the 3-wave longitudinal dataset called Welfare Children and Families: A Three-City Study to examine the long-term implications for adolescents and young adults (N=783) of mothers' welfare receipt and labor force participation from 1999 to 2005. In general, changes in mothers' work and welfare patterns were not associated with deterioration or improvement in youth development (ages 16 to 20 years at wave 3). The few significant associations suggested that youth whose mothers increased employment (net of welfare participation) were more likely to show declines in serious behavior problems and delinquency compared to youth whose mothers were unemployed or employed part-time during the study period. Welfare roll exits (controlling for employment experiences) were unrelated to adolescent and young adult outcomes. Mothers' employment transitions were linked to improvements in household income and mothers' self esteem in addition to reductions in financial strain and their own illegal activities. However, these associations did not explain the relation between maternal employment and youths' improved behavior. These results do not support the predictions of either the supporters or the opponents of welfare reform, an outcome we discuss.
 
Article
Despite the high prevalence of depression among children and adolescents, most that need mental health treatment do not seek care. This is especially true for ethnic minority adolescents. Prior research has shown that perceived stigma may act as a barrier to the initiation of and adherence to depression treatment, yet few studies have examined the relationship between stigma and depression among Black adolescents. This exploratory study examined the relationship between Black adolescents' depression severity and their current level of perceived stigma in an outpatient sample. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a clinical sample of adolescents referred for mental health services at a community-based outpatient clinic (n =108), participating in a prospective pilot study on adolescents' patterns of mental health service use. The analyses revealed that greater depression severity was significantly associated with higher perceived stigma (p
 
Article
Antisocial behavior among youth remains a serious personal and social problem in the United States. The purposes of this study were to (1) identify the shape and number of developmental trajectories of antisocial behavior in a sample of poor, inner-city African American youth, and (2) test predictors of group membership and the developmental course of antisocial behaviors. Using growth mixture modeling, we examined predictors of antisocial behavior pathways and the likelihood of arrest in a sample of 566 poor, urban African American adolescents (ages 11 to 16). Three distinct trajectory classes of antisocial behavior were identified over a period of six years: one low-risk group (low steady) and two high-risk groups (incremental and high starter). The conditional probabilities for being arrested during ages 14-16 were 0.18 for the low steady class, 0.68 for the incremental class, and 0.31 for high starter class. Prevention strategies for adolescents at high risk are discussed.
 
Article
This study reports the prevalence of PTSD, major depression, alcohol abuse/dependence and substance abuse/dependence diagnoses assessed with a structured clinical interview protocol in a population-based, multi-state, age cohort of older adolescents about to exit child welfare systems. PTSD was the most common diagnosis and was observed at rates above those seen in the general population. Rates of specific diagnoses varied according to gender, race, type of child welfare placement, and state of residence. In general, African American youth and those in kinship family foster care were less likely to have mental health and substance use problems. Analysis of the timing of onset relative to entry into care revealed that Caucasian youth were more likely to have diagnoses prior to entry into state custody, and race differentials were less pronounced for diagnosis after placement in foster care. Observed state-to-state differences suggest that age of entry into care and the likelihood of pre-existing mental health and substance use conditions could be attributable to child welfare policies regarding screening and placement.
 
Article
Adolescents involved with foster care are five times more likely to receive a drug dependence diagnosis when compared to adolescents in the general population. Prior research has shown that substance use is often hidden from providers, negating any chance for treatment and almost guaranteeing poor post-foster care outcomes. There are virtually no studies that examine the willingness (and its determinants) to foster youth with substance abuse problems. The current study conducted a nationally-distributed survey of 752 currently licensed foster care parents that assessed willingness to foster youth overall and by type of drug used, and possible correlates of this decision (e.g., home factors, system factors, and individual foster parent factors such as ratings of perceived difficulty in fostering this population). Overall, willingness to foster a youth involved with alcohol and other drugs (AOD) was contingent upon the types of drugs used. The odds that a parent would foster an AOD-involved youth were significantly increased by being licensed as a treatment foster home, having fostered an AOD-involved youth in the past, having AOD-specific training and past agency-support when needed, and self-efficacy with respect to positive impact. Surprisingly, when religion played a large part in the decision to foster any child, the odds of willingness to foster an AOD-involved youth dropped significantly. These results suggest that a large proportion of AOD-involved youth who find themselves in the foster care system will not have foster families willing to parent them, thereby forcing placement into a variety of congregate care facilities (e.g., residential treatment facilities, group homes). Specific ways in which the system can address these issues to improve placement and permanency efforts is provided.
 
Article
This pilot study examined the effect of five child and maternal factors on the attachment security of international adoptees at six months post adoption. Results from the sample of 22 adoptive mother-infant dyads showed that age at adoption, developmental status, length and quality of preadoption care, and maternal attachment representations were not significant predictors of child attachment status. The number of preadoption placements and the child's stress level did significantly predict attachment status, accounting for approximately 40% of the variance in attachment security. Number of preadoption placements uniquely contributed 14% of that variance (p=.007) while stress level uniquely contributed 12% (p=.01). Children who had fewer preadoption placements had higher attachment security; similarly, children who had lower stress levels had higher attachment security. Results suggest that consistency of preadoption care was more important than its length or quality. Further, the relationship between stress level and attachment security raises the possibility that a lower stress level functions as a protective factor for the developing attachment with the adoptive mother.
 
Article
To better understand the nature of sibling relationships among children in foster or adoptive placement and the challenges and processes involved in maintaining these relationships, we conducted an exploratory analysis of data collected from semi-structured interviews with caregivers of 14 foster and adopted children in San Diego County. We identified three patterns of placement histories and living situations which appeared to impact the degree of contact maintained with siblings: (1) children who had never lived together and were not currently placed together; (2) children who at some point lived with or were placed together with their siblings, but were now separated from them; and (3) children who had lived with their siblings all their life and were placed together with at least some of their siblings at the time of the interview. Children's current living situations and placement histories, caregivers' experiences and perceptions of feasibility and desirability of sibling contact, and the sibling relationship itself are primary determinants in the development and maintenance of contact between siblings. Implications for child welfare policy and practice are discussed.
 
Article
The study sample was drawn from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), an ongoing investigation of a panel of low-income minority children (93% Black) growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods in Chicago. The study sample included 733 males who were active by age 26. Adult criminal records were collected through administrative records and supplemented with self-reports. Outcome measures included incarceration, conviction, and felony conviction by age 26. Probit regression was used to analyze the data. Findings indicated that common childhood predictors were AFDC participation by child's age 3, negative home environment, maltreatment experience, trouble making behavior, and number of school moves. Unique predictors were mother unemployed by child's age 3 for incarceration or jail, four or more children in household by child's age 3 for felony conviction, and mother did not complete high school by child's age 3 and social competence for both incarceration or jail and felony conviction. Implications on crime prevention were discussed.
 
Article
Studies examining resilience to child maltreatment reveal that maltreatment victims can achieve adaptive functioning in several areas of development; however, few of these individuals persistently demonstrate resilience across multiple domains. The majority of these investigations define adjustment with a limited number of outcomes measured proximal in time to the maltreatment experience. In contrast, this study measured adjustment across a diverse set of domains during early adulthood (ages 16–24), a number of years after the occurrence of childhood maltreatment (ages 0–11).Main effect and mediation analyses were conducted. Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, an examination of 1539 minority individuals born in low-income Chicago-area neighborhoods in 1979 or 1980. Study participants were followed prospectively from birth through age 24.Maltreatment data originated from official court and child protective service records. Parent report, self report, and administrative sources informed covariate, mediator and outcome measures. Results from multivariate probit regression revealed that childhood maltreatment significantly and negatively predicted adult resilience. Exploratory and confirmatory mediation analyses showed that the following adolescent indicators helped explain the long-term association between childhood maltreatment and young adult adjustment: school moves and out-of-home placement, reading ability, acting out behavior, social skills, juvenile delinquency, commitment to school, and expectation to attend college.Implications of results are explored.
 
Article
The identification and understanding of alterable influences on well-being are at the nexus of developmental science and social policy. These influences span the life course but child, family, and school experiences in the first two decades are particularly instrumental to health and well-being. To investigate some of these influences, we report data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. The study investigates the life course development of 1,539 children (93% African American and 7% Hispanic) who were born in 1979-1980, grew up in the highest-poverty neighborhoods in Chicago, and attended early childhood intervention programs beginning in preschool. The goals of the study are to determine the effects of participation in the Child-Parent Center Program, document patterns of child and family well-being over time, and identify child, family, school, and community factors that can promote children's well being. We describe major intervention findings and summarize the contributions of a variety of personal, family, and school experiences in promoting multiple domains of well-being.
 
Article
This study explored the early family histories of homeless young adults, the types and number of transitions they experienced, and their pathways to the street. Intensive qualitative interviews were audio taped and transcribed with 40 homeless young adults 19 to 21 years of age in the Midwest. Findings show that family backgrounds were generally characterized by substance use, child maltreatment, and witnessing violence, all of which provide social context for understanding why so many of these young people opted to leave home in search of an alternative living situation. The current findings also reveal that while some young adults ran away from home as adolescents, others were "pushed out" (i.e., told to leave), or removed by state agencies. Current study findings illustrate that young adults' trajectories are marked by multiple living arrangements such as home, foster care, detention facility, and drug rehabilitation. Overall, study results show that young adults' family histories place them on trajectories for early independence marked by multiple transitions and numerous living situations, culminating in a lack of a permanent residence to call home.
 
Article
The benefits of high-quality father-child relationships for fathers and children alike are well documented. While evidence suggests parenting programs can improve the quality of father-child relationships, few fathers participate in such programs. This qualitative study aims to fill the gap in knowledge on best practices for recruiting urban African American fathers, a group of fathers with unique parenting challenges, to parenting programs. Focus groups were conducted with 29 fathers to gain their perspectives on recruitment strategies. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with a nationwide sample of 19 fatherhood program providers to learn about their most successful recruitment strategies. Recruitment strategies based on emergent themes from the focus groups and interviews are presented here. Themes included using word-of-mouth recruitment, increasing advertising, targeting advertising specifically to urban African American fathers, providing transportation and incentives, recruiting through the courts, collaborating with other community agencies, and offering parenting programming along with other programming valued by fathers such as employment assistance. Implications for developing strategies for recruiting urban African American fathers to parenting programs are discussed.
 
Article
A pilot study using a prospective design examined the impact of a collaboratively developed training model, called the Parent Empowerment Program (PEP), for professionally-employed family peer advocates who work with caregivers of children with mental health needs. This training used a combination of didactic, practice exercises, and group discussion. It targeted specific mental health knowledge content and collaborative skills to facilitate the work of family peer advocates in empowering caregivers. Co-delivered by a family peer advocate and clinician, the training consisted of a 40-hour face-to-face training, followed by six monthly face-to-face booster sessions. A total of 15 advocates participated in assessments conducted at baseline and post-training. This group of experienced family peer advocates showed no significant increase in knowledge about mental health content, but post-training assessments indicated increased collaborative skills and mental health services self-efficacy. This initial evaluation has implications for expanding training and support for the emergent workforce of professionally-employed family peer advocates in children's mental health.
 
Article
This study prospectively examined associations among multiple theoretically informed risk (e.g., depression, sexual sensation seeking, and risky peers norms) and protective factors (e.g., social support, STI knowledge, and refusal to have sex self efficacy) on unsafe sex among 715 African American adolescent females aged 15-21 who participated in an STI/HIV prevention intervention. Generalized estimating equation models were used to assess associations between baseline characteristics and sexual risk over a 12-month follow up period. Overall risk in this population was high: at baseline, nearly a third of women reported sex under the influence of alcohol or substances; ≥ 2 partners for vaginal sex, and casual sex partners in the 60 days prior to baseline, and nearly 75% of those reporting vaginal sex used condoms inconsistently. In multivariable analysis, when risk and protective factors were simultaneously considered, higher levels of sexual sensation seeking were associated with having multiple sex partners and inconsistent condom use. Greater perception of risky peer norms was associated with a higher risk of having sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition, higher sex refusal self-efficacy was protective against having multiple; casual; and concurrent sex partners. Incorporating these salient factors into prevention programs may be critical to the development of targeted interventions for this population.
 
Article
This research examined whether negative peer influences (i.e., norms favoring risky sex and drug use and gang involvement) mediated the relationship between school engagement (i.e., grade point averages [GPAs] obtained from school records and student-teacher connectedness) and sexual behaviors (i.e., sexual début, sex without condoms, group sex, and sex while using drugs) among African American high school adolescents, and whether these relationships varied by gender. Five hundred sixty-three high school adolescents (ages 13 to 19) completed self-administered questionnaires that assessed school engagement markers (GPAs obtained from student records, and student-teacher connectedness), peer influences, sexual début, and risky sex (sex without condoms, group sex, and sex while using drugs). Major findings for boys indicate that GPA was negatively associated with both sexual début and risky sex. Additionally, the relationship between student-teacher connectedness and risky sex was mediated by gang involvement. For girls, higher GPAs were associated with fewer norms favoring risky sex and drug use and such norms were associated with sexual début. Moreover, the relationship between GPA, sexual début and risky sex was mediated by risky peer norms. Intervention programs to delay sexual début and reduce risky sex among youths should attend to the gendered ways through which such behaviors occur.
 
Article
A recognized goal of family reunification programs is preventing the reentry of children into foster care. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, this study examined reentry for 273 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years. In multivariate models, reentry into foster care was associated with higher Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) scores and higher numbers of children in the household when the child is living at home. Although these are not the only risk factors that should be considered in deciding whether to reunify a child, these characteristics appear to be high valence problems for families and their children who are reunified. Future research on reentry and on placement disruptions from foster care should routinely include information about the number of children in the family and behavior problems when endeavoring to explain caseload dynamics.
 
Article
Unmet need for behavioral health care is a serious problem for crossover youth, or those simultaneously involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Although a large percentage of crossover youth are serious emotionally disturbed, relatively few receive necessary behavioral health services. Few studies have examined the role of interagency collaboration in facilitating behavioral health service access for crossover youth. This study examined associations for three dimensions of collaboration between local child welfare and juvenile justice agencies - jurisdiction, shared information systems, and overall connectivity - and youths' odds of receiving behavioral health services. Data were drawn from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national survey of families engaged with the child welfare system. Having a single agency accountable for youth care increased youth odds of receiving outpatient and inpatient behavioral health services. Inter-agency sharing of administrative data increased youth odds of inpatient behavioral health service receipt. Clarifying agency accountability and linking databases across sectors may improve service access for youth involved with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
 
Article
Many foster parents are ill prepared to meet the behavioral needs of children placed in their homes. Research suggests they lack training in evidence-based behavioral interventions and feel unsupported by child welfare professionals. Given the complex needs of foster children and increased rates of placement disruption for foster children with behavior problems, implementation of effective interventions is essential. However, little is known about foster parents' receptivity to these types of interventions. In this qualitative study, we examine urban foster parents' perceptions of the specific elements of parent management training (PMT), an evidence-based treatment for disruptive behaviors that teaches parents to improve desired behaviors and decrease oppositional behaviors by rewarding positive behaviors (positive reinforcement) and responding to negative behaviors with mild, consistent punishments such as timeout or a privilege removal. We present data from four focus groups (N = 38). While the questions focused on parent's perceptions of PMT, responses often related to parent interactions with agency staff. Four strong themes emerged from the data. First, foster parents discussed a need for more support and training in how to address children's behaviors, but also had concerns that some PMT discipline techniques would be ineffective based on their past experiences with foster children. Second, they described how staff communication skills and allegations of child abuse could affect parents' motivation to continue fostering. Third, they expressed a need for more detailed information about children's histories and visits with biological families as the lack of information contributed to difficulty in meeting foster children's needs. They suggested that joint training of foster parents and staff in the intervention could improve their ability to work together to support the child's positive behaviors. Finally, parents reported little involvement in child mental health services and doubted the effectiveness of the mental health services their foster children received.
 
Article
This study examined separate and combined maternal and paternal use of spanking with children at age 3 and children's subsequent aggressive behavior at age 5. The sample was derived from a birth cohort study and included families (n = 923) in which both parents lived with the child at age 3. In this sample, 44% of 3-year-olds were spanked 2 times or more in the past month by either parent or both parents. In separate analyses, being spanked more than twice in the prior month at age 3, by either mother or father, was associated with increased child aggression at 5 years. In combined analyses, there was a dose-response association; the greatest risk for child aggression was reported when both parents spanked more than twice in the prior month (adjusted odds ratio: 2.01; [confidence interval: 1.03-3.94]). Violence prevention initiatives should target and engage mothers and fathers in anticipatory guidance efforts aimed at increasing the use of effective and non-aggressive child discipline techniques and reducing the use of spanking.
 
Intervention effects on child oppositional and aggressive classroom behaviors in kindergarten 
Article
One hundred ninety-two children in foster care participated in a randomized efficacy trial of a school readiness intervention, the Kids In Transition to School (KITS) Program, designed to increase literacy, social, and self-regulation skills in children before kindergarten entry. One hundred two children were randomly assigned to the KITS intervention and 90 were randomly assigned to the foster care services as usual comparison group. At the end of the kindergarten year, teachers were asked to report on the children's oppositional and aggressive behaviors in the classroom. Controlling for gender, baseline levels of parent-reported oppositional and aggressive behaviors, and level of disruptiveness in the classroom, children who had received the intervention had significantly lower levels of oppositional and aggressive behaviors in the classroom. Findings suggest that an intervention designed to increase school readiness in children in foster care can have positive effects on kindergarten classroom behavior.
 
Article
Preventive interventions are urgently needed for children from rural, methamphetamine-involved families, who are at risk for the development of aggressive and other externalizing behavioral problems. This mixed method study explored naturally occurring sources of protection and considers the implications for targeted interventions. Participants were 41 children aged six to 14 years from rural families involved with methamphetamine and the public child welfare system, their primary caregivers, and 19 parents recovering from methamphetamine addiction. When invited during semi-structured interviews to talk about their families, 48% of children spontaneously described socially and emotionally supportive relationships with healthy grandparents. Children's reports of support from grandparents were associated with lower scores on CBCL Social Problems, [t(37)= 2.23, p<.05 ]; externalizing behaviors, [t(37)= 2.07, p<.05]; and aggressive behaviors, [t(37)= 2.75, p<.01]. When asked to talk about their families, 58% of parents spontaneously described the support their children received from grandparents, and 26% also described the support that they had received from their own grandparents. Children's and parents' descriptions of grandparent support suggest how grandparents may protect children from the development of aggressive and other externalizing behavior problems. First, grandparents may prevent obstacles to healthy development by providing their grandchildren with safe shelter and basic child care when parents are incapacitated from substance misuse. Second, they may promote their grandchildren's positive social-emotional development through supportive relationships. Third, they may promote social competence through enjoyable leisure activities with healthy adults and non-delinquent peers. Understanding naturally occurring sources of protection for children can inform the development of interventions by identifying strengths on which to build, and suggesting culturally sensitive approaches when children are struggling.
 
Article
PURPOSE: To understand the role of extended family in responding to problems of AID-orphaned children and adolescents in Uganda, the study examines who are the primary caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children and adolescents, what are the types of caregiving provided to orphans and whether the quality of caregiving varies by the primary caregiver's gender and type. METHODS: The study uses bivariate analyses and mixed effects models utilizing baseline data from a cluster randomized experimental design including 283 orphaned adolescents in Uganda. RESULTS: The analysis revealed a generally dominating role of female caregivers for both single and double orphans. In the absence of biological parents - as in the case of double orphans - grandparents' role as caregivers prevail. On average, the study participants indicated receiving the high level of perceived caregiver support: the average score of 3.56 out of 4 (95% CI=3.5, 3.65). Results of mixed effect models (adjusting for school effects) revealed significant differences in perceived caregiver support by caregiver's gender. Compared to their male counterparts, female participants with whom the child/adolescent lives (B=0.22, 95% CI=0.11, 0.34) and women who are currently taking care of a child/adolescent (B=0.15, 95% CI=0.05, 0.26) provide greater caregiver support as perceived and reported by a child/adolescent. Similarly, female financiers - compared to male source of financial support - provide greater caregiver support as perceived and reported by a child/adolescent (B=0.16, 95% CI=0.04, 0.3). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that extended families are still holding up as an important source of care and support for AIDS orphaned children and adolescents in Uganda. The findings support the argument about importance of matrilineal and grandparental care for AIDS orphans.
 
Article
Evidence-based practice has been enthusiastically embraced within the field of drug prevention during the past decade. Project ALERT, a school-based universal prevention program, is among the most widely advocated evidence-based interventions. We examined the results of three large-scale evaluations of Project ALERT, and concluded that assessment of data from the total samples shows that the program has little effect on drug use. Despite this, Project ALERT is included on evidence-based drug prevention lists because the criteria for inclusion are extremely weak. We discuss the implications of this for drug prevention evaluation research and the creation of evidence-based practice lists.
 
Article
Therapeutic alliance has been frequently studied in individual counseling sessions; however, research on therapeutic alliance in residential settings for youth with mental health diagnoses has been limited. This may be due, in part, to the presence of multiple service providers often in caregiving roles. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric quality of a widely utilized measure of therapeutic alliance used in psychotherapy with youth in residential care where the treatment is provided by a trained married couple. We also compared the relationship between youth ratings of their male and female service provider, as well as examined correlations in ratings between youth and staff on therapeutic alliance. Finally, we investigated the direction, magnitude, and trajectory of change in therapeutic alliance over a 12-month period following admission into residential care. The method was a longitudinal assessment of 135 youth and 124 staff regarding therapeutic alliance over the course of 12 months or discharge from services. Results indicated strong psychometric properties and high correlations for youth ratings of both their male and female service providers. However, the correlation was low between youth and service provider ratings of alliance. Longitudinal analyses indicated that rates of therapeutic alliance changed over time.
 
Article
Prior ethnographic evidence suggests that parents combat neighborhood dangers through spending time with and money on children perceived to be at risk. This paper summarizes a secondary data investigation of whether interactions between neighborhood quality and child characteristics predict patterns of intra-household resource allocation. Using a sample of N=1879 12- and 13-year-olds from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I find that in neighborhoods with greater numbers of problems, parents spend more time and money with firstborn children and who are particularly short or impulsive relative to how parents treat such children in lower problem neighborhoods. Comparisons of cross-sectional and sibling fixed-effect models suggest the shortness and firstborn effects are not due to unobserved family characteristics. These results lend modest support to the assertion that parents systematically try to use within-family resources to protect certain children from threats posed by neighborhoods with high levels of crime or low levels of social cohesiveness.
 
Article
OBJECTIVE: This observational study explores pathways towards any past year use of child mental health services. METHODS: Data from the 2002 National Survey of American Families were used to explore the relationship between past month maternal mental health and past year child mental health services use. Observations were limited to the 8072 most knowledgeable adults who were the mothers of target children aged 6-11. Logistic regressions were performed to determine the odds of any child mental health service use followed by path analyses using Maximum Likelihood estimation with robust standard errors. RESULTS: Multiple factors were associated with odds of any child mental health service use. In the path analytic model poor past month maternal mental health was associated with increased aggravation which in turn was associated with increased use of mental health visits. Negative child behaviors as reported by the mother were also associated with increased maternal aggravation and increased service use. CONCLUSIONS: Parental perception of child behaviors influences treatment seeking, both directly and indirectly through parental aggravation. Parental mental health influences tolerance for child behaviors. Findings are consistent with other studies. Interventions should address the entire family and their psychosocial circumstances through collaboration between multiple service sectors.
 
Top-cited authors
Richard P Barth
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
Mark E Courtney
  • University of Chicago
Faye Mishna
  • University of Toronto
Irwin Garfinkel
  • Columbia University
Julien Teitler
  • Columbia University