The Role of Caregiver Support in Improving Academic Achievement of AIDS-Orphaned Children in Uganda
Methods: This study uses data from the NIMH-funded study known as Suubi-Maka (Hope for families), an intervention for AIDS–orphaned children in Uganda. Caregiver-child dyads were randomly assigned to either the control condition or the treatment condition (N=346). Interviews were conducted at baseline, 10-months and 20-months follow-up. Regression analyses were conducted using perceived caregiver support and family cohesion data at baseline to predict academic achievement (school attendance and schools grades measured by a nationally administered standardized examination for children completing primary school) at 20-months follow up.
Results: Controlling for socio-economic characteristics and the intervention, perceived caregiver support in form of warmth and acceptance was significantly associated with improvement in school grades (B=-.20, 95% CI= -.35, -.05, p=. 008) (lower numbers indicate better achievement), and reduced school absence (B=-.17, 95% CI=-.14, -.01). Perceived family cohesion was significantly associated with school attendance (B=. 17, 95% CI .052, .29, p=. 005), and household wealth was associated with school grades (B= -.12, 95% CI = -.74, .50, p =. 70)
Implications: These findings signify the importance of caregiver support in improving academic outcomes of orphaned children. Most of the current efforts that support these children focus on the economic needs, neglecting the family support systems that directly impact children’s outcomes including educational achievement. Future public policies and programs should work to strengthen family support networks among families caring for orphaned children in low resource communities to help improve their later outcomes.