Abstract: Validating the Non-Parental Adult Inventory (N.P.A.I.) for use in Social Work Assessment and Research (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

11387 Validating the Non-Parental Adult Inventory (N.P.A.I.) for use in Social Work Assessment and Research

Sunday, January 17, 2010: 10:45 AM
Seacliff D (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Carrie W. Rishel, PhD , West Virginia University, Assistant Professor, Morgantown, WV
Background and Purpose: Research clearly demonstrates the importance of non-parental adults in the lives of youth. Indeed, the existence of supportive relationships with non-parental adults has been suggested as a significant protective factor in preventing poor outcomes for youth. Of recognized protective factors, however, the role of non-parental adults in the lives of youth has received comparably little attention. A lack of comprehensive measurement tools to assess youths' relationships with non-parental adults has hindered further examination of this critical protective factor. A recently developed instrument, the Non-Parental Adult Inventory (N.P.A.I.), provides social work practitioners and researchers with the opportunity to obtain a comprehensive report of youths' relationships with non-parental adults. The purpose of this study is to assess the reliability, validity, and utility of the N.P.A.I. in social work assessment and research.

Methods: Use of the N.P.A.I. was piloted with a small study (N=75) in 2005 and then implemented in a larger study (N=518) in 2007. Data for the validation analyses come mainly from the second study that included 518 adolescent-parent pairs who participated in a larger longitudinal study examining parental monitoring strategies and adolescent risk behavior. Instrument structure was examined using exploratory analyses followed by confirmatory factor analyses. Reliability was assessed by examining the internal consistency (coefficient alpha) of sub-scales and short term test-retest reliability. Finally correlations of scale scores with theoretically related variables were examined to assess instrument validity.

Results: Findings suggest distinct sub-scales assessing relationships with related and non-related adults separately. Within the category of non-related adults, results also support differential assessment of “informal” supports (e.g. neighbor; friend of family) and “formal” supports (e.g. teacher; coach). Coefficient alphas reporting internal consistency of scale scores ranged from .72 to .89. Correlation coefficients (r) assessing test-retest reliability were acceptable, ranging from .60 to .79. Scale scores correlated with other constructs as expected. For example, the total score representing “relationships with non-parental adults” showed a significant negative correlation with adolescent risk behavior.

Conclusions and Implications: The N.P.A.I. shows evidence of reliability and validity. Previous work with the N.P.A.I. has demonstrated its usefulness in hypothesis-driven research. Moreover, identification of sub-scales pertaining to related adults, non-related “informal” supports, and non-related “formal” supports suggest important implications for future research. Examination of these sub-scales within the N.P.A.I. could be used to assess if different types of non-parental adults are most important or influential in various populations of youth. Strategies for incorporating the N.P.A.I. into social work assessment are also discussed, including examples for assessment in the field of child welfare and use of the N.P.A.I. with the social work eco-map. Social workers, who practice from a person-in-environment perspective, are well equipped to facilitate stronger bonds between youth and non-parental adults. Good assessment tools, such as the N.P.A.I., are critical to assisting practitioners in this process. Thorough assessment would allow practitioners to identify areas of strength within the support system of at-risk youth, and to build on these strengths. Similarly, gaps in support could be identified and addressed through planned intervention strategies.