Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of Pathways 2 in one region of Texas. The sample included children in foster care from this region who did not have a permanency hearing scheduled within 60 days. Caregivers were invited to participate in Pathways 2 and in return, were provided childcare, meals and stipends for attendance. Caregivers were surveyed at two time points, once before participating in Pathways 2 and again six months after participating in Pathways 2. Mixed linear modeling was used to: 1) look at changes in child behavior problems from pre to post, and 2) determine if changes looked different based on whether or not a caregiver was biologically related to their child. Behavior problems were assessed using the Behavior Problem Index (BPI), a measure consisting of two subscales that measure the frequency, range, and type of childhood behavior problems children ages four and older may exhibit.
Results: A total of 85 families (110 caregivers) attended at least five sessions of Pathways 2 and completed the pre and post survey. Fifty-nine of these families were included in this analysis because they had a child who was at least four years old. Caregivers from 15 of these families were biologically related to their child. Overall, there was a significant decrease in a child’s frequency to internalize behaviors from pre to post. The estimate for the fixed effect (time) was significant: t(56.34)=1.01, p=0.046, and the BPI Internalizing subscale score was on average 1.01 points higher on than pre than the post. Results from a second mixed linear model indicated that Pathways 2 had a greater impact on child behavior after six months for biologically related families. The estimate for the interaction term showed a significant interaction between time and relative status; t(54.56) = 3.02; p = .004. Biologically related caregivers had on average an additional 7.34 points decrease in their total BPI score from pre to post.
Conclusion: Pathways 2 provided caregivers with a foundation to understand trauma, grief, and loss and empowered caregivers with new tools to help them address impaired-attachments and trauma. Findings have significant implications for kinship placements in Texas where children are often placed with a biological relative but not required to complete any trainings.