Friday, January 13, 2012: 8:30 AM
McPherson Square (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Background and Purpose: An analysis of the National Survey of America's Families revealed that the majority of the 2.3 million children who live with relatives reside in informal kinship care with neither birth parent present. Research on informal kinship care families indicates that family factors such as family functioning, caregiver's parenting stress, and the quality of the relationship between children and biological parents contribute to competence (e.g., social & school) in African American children in informal kinship care. Research also indicates that several of these children have competence levels in the borderline and clinical ranges as rated by the Child Behavior Checklist Competence Scale (CBCL). Despite having some empirical knowledge about the predictors of competence and the levels of competence in this population, little is known about the family factors that promote competence in children who have lower competence levels. This study used a risk and resilience framework to determine if a significant difference exists between children with higher and lower levels of competence at baseline. This study also examined whether family factors promote the development of competence for children with low competence levels at baseline and whether these family factors are associated with an increase in competence over time. Methods: This study analyzed existing longitudinal data (Waves 1,2,3,4) collected from 2002 to 2005 from a U.S Children's Bureau funded study about informal kinship care families. All African American children who had at least two observations of the Child Behavior Checklist Competence Scale were selected to participate in the current study. Thus, the study's sample consists of 120 African American children who at wave 1 were between the ages of 5.9 years to 11.2 years. The Social Support, Beavers Self Report Family Functioning, Parental Stress Index, and Family Resources Scales are additional standardized measures included in this study. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to analyze data, to account for the influence of subjects on their repeated observations and to adjust standard errors. Results: Akaike information criterion (AIC) model selection revealed a significant differences between children with higher and lower levels of competence at baseline (t= -17.45, p<.01). The study also revealed significant direct effects of children's relationship with biological mothers (t= 0.92, p<.05) and family resources (t= 4.20, p<.01) on children's competence. Additionally, caregiver's social support (t=0.93, p<.05,kinship care family functioning (t=1.40, p<.05), and children's relationship with biological mothers (t=-0.80, p<.01) were associated with an increase in competence over time for children with low competence levels at baseline. Conclusion and Implications: Development of competence places children on track to be successful adults. The findings offer optimism because African American children in informal kinship care children with lower levels of competence are not stagnate and doomed; their competence levels can increase over time. Also, this study provides new information regarding specific family factors that can be used by practitioners in interventions to promote children's competence.
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