Abstract: A Multi-Year and Longitudinal Study of Camp-Based Reunification Impacts to the Well-Being of Siblings Separated By out-of-Home Care (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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A Multi-Year and Longitudinal Study of Camp-Based Reunification Impacts to the Well-Being of Siblings Separated By out-of-Home Care

Friday, January 13, 2023
Valley of the Sun A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Jeffrey Waid, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN
Faith VanMeter, MA, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Armeda Wojciak, PhD, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Background. Sibling separation can be detrimental to the well-being of youth in out-of-home care. Camp-based reunification has emerged as one developmentally informed approach to preserve and enhance sibling relationships, however, little is currently known about who benefits from these programs or if there is an additive benefit of multiple camp reunification experiences.

Method. Pre-test post-test survey data were collected from 2,260 youth who were first time campers at one of 16 sibling reunification programs in the U.S. or Australia between years 2013-2019. A subset of youth who attended camp for at least two years (n=349) were analyzed longitudinally. Outcome measures included pre-test post-test changes to youth-reported resilience, sibling support, and sibling conflict. Analysis included hierarchical linear models nesting first-time camper outcomes by sibling group, camp location, and time. Repeated measures ANOVA then examined the magnitude of pre-test post-test changes to youth resilience, sibling, support, and sibling conflict among the subsample of youth recording a second camp experience.

Results. Among first time campers statistically significant increases in resilience (B=.70, SE=.16, p =<.01), decreases in sibling support (B=-.37, SE=.14, p=.01), and decreases in sibling conflict (B=-.41, SE=.12, p<.01) were observed. Reductions to sibling support and increases in resilience were greater for non-white youth (support: B=-.87, SD=.38, p=.02; resilience: B=.63, SD=.38, p=.10). Girls also reported greater reductions in sibling conflict than boys (B=-.34, SD=.13, p=.01). The sibling group accounted for modest variance in sibling support (ICC=.20) and sibling conflict (ICC=.20) but not resilience (ICC=.00). Models nested by camp and year did not explain additional variance for any outcomes, indicating stability of program impacts over time and location.

For repeat campers, a main effect due to time emerged for resilience [F(1, 170)=3.75, p=.05, ηp2=.02]. On average, youth experienced the greatest increases in resilience during their first year at camp (M=1.63, SD=5.51), which was followed by smaller improvement to resilience in their second year of camp (M=0.37, SD=5.82). No significant time effects emerged for sibling support or sibling conflict, meaning the magnitude of change to these outcomes were similar from youth’s first to second year of program participation.

Conclusion. Camp-based reunification impacts youth resilience, sibling support, and sibling conflict are most notable during youth’s first year of program participation, with some continued improvements to youth resilience in youths second year at camp. Race, gender, and sibling group differentially account for variance in the programs impact. Future research aimed at disentangling the moderating effects of race, and gender on youth and sibling groups camp experiences and well-being outcomes is warranted.