Methods: Data for the study come from the “Illinois Birth through Three” (IB3) waiver demonstration project, which focused on whether trauma-informed parenting programs reduce trauma symptoms, increase permanency, reduce re-entry, and improve the well-being of children up to three years old who are placed in foster care. We used Latent growth curve modeling techniques to examine the growth trajectories of three well-being outcomes—attachment, self-regulation, initiative—over time. The sample size gradually dropped from 1,702 at the 1st screening to 148 by the 4th screening, due to children exiting care.
Results: Overall, both intervention and comparison caregivers reported improvements in children’s social and emotional functioning (i.e., attachment, self-regulation, initiative) over time in foster care. While the comparison group at earlier screenings reported greater improvements than the intervention group, over time, children in the comparison group had lower reported socio-emotional functioning than children in the intervention group. In other words, children in the comparison group start at an advantage, but by the fourth assessment, children in the intervention group outperform children in the comparison group on all three indicators.
Conclusions & Implications: Our findings draw attention to the need for long-term tracking of intervention effects on well-being outcomes. Of particular focus is the emerging evidence that trauma-informed parenting programs may hold promise for improving children’s social and emotional functioning over time compared to offering typical family services.