Abstract: Impact of Face on Educational Outcomes (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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12P Impact of Face on Educational Outcomes

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Aaron Thompson, PhD, Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Toby Mills, MSW, Research Assistant and LCSW Supervisor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Background and Purpose: Nearly 80% of 1 in 4 youth who experience symptoms of a mental health (MH) disorder never access effective services to address their symptoms. Barriers to access include stigma, unawareness of symptoms and where to access help, transportation, and financial assistance. Though schools do employ a range of support personnel, there is a significant lack of needed services for students. Thus, many school, family, and community collaboration models have begun to provide access to MH supports.

The present study reports the impact of one such school-community linked program called the Family Access Center of Excellence (FACE). FACE uses the Family Check-Up (FCU) model to offer a child-focused and family-systems assessment to identify problem areas along with intensive case management to address common barriers to accessing care. We hypothesized youth who engaged with FACE would demonstrate improvements in these outcomes, including improved self-reported and teacher-reported social and behavioral risk, attendance, reductions in suspensions, and improvements on standardized academic assessments.

Methods: The present study utilized a naturally occurring, quasi-experimental research design with 417 youth. To determine whether youth who accessed FACE services differed from youth who were referred but did not access FACE services, we compared each group using a chi-square or t-independent test. Next, we used a sequence of fixed effects regression models to examine end of year differences between the two groups on each outcome. All models controlled for baseline scores. Associations in the analyses were gauged using a range of significance values (e.g., .001, .05, .1) and effect sizes were calculated using Cohen’s d standardized metric. All analyses and tables were completed using R.

Results: The models show FACE-engaged youth had fewer teacher-rated social-emotional risk factors (d = .24), a higher percentage of attendance (d = .26), significantly fewer office referrals (d = .24), fewer in-school suspension (d = .32) and out-of-school suspensions (d = .33) and higher scores on standardized math scores (d = .45) compared to unengaged youth. No treatment effects for social and emotional risk scores or standardized communication arts were observed. Baseline performance was significantly related to posttest performance on all outcomes.

Implications: The findings from this study mirror prior studies of the FCU process and demonstrate a school-family-community partnership can link youth to needed services that effect their social behavioral and school performance. Many of these youth would have otherwise not received services. Removing barriers to service linkage is an important first step but knowing that those youth who link are also likely benefiting is important. Even evidence-based family interventions that improve youth symptoms at home, often fail to impact youth outcomes in school settings. FACE offers a comprehensive, yet efficient model of care for altering these circumstances. Here we found evidence that a relatively brief family assessment, feedback, and case management approach yielded improvements in youth symptoms and school discipline and achievement outcomes compared to similarly situated youth who did not receive FACE services.