We utilized the national dataset, the fifth wave (nine-year-old children) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) Study. To handle the missing cases, multiple imputations (MI) with a chained equation method of multiple multivariate data imputation was employed. With a sample size of 3,320, the Binary Logistic and Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression analyses were employed.
We found that first that parental care (b = -.40, p < .001) and nonadult care (b = .57, p < .05) were significantly related to children's delinquency. After controlling for relevant covariates, non-adult care became insignificant and children under parental care were 30% less likely to engage in delinquency than children in ASPs (b = -.36, OR = .70, p < .01). Secondly, children in parental care were less likely to have emotional-behavioral problems than those in ASPs (β = -.06, p < .05), and children under non-adult care were more likely to have emotional-behavioral problems than those in ASP (β = .05, p < .01). After controlling for covariates, parental care became insignificant and children under non-adult care were more likely to have emotional-behavioral problems than those in ASPs (β = .04, p < .05).
Our study findings demonstrated that children in parental care showed a more positive association with delinquency. Children’s delinquency can be effectively prevented through direct instruction and supervision from their parents at home. At the same time, their emotional-behavioral problems can be treated more effectively through ASPs by instructors in school settings. For school social workers and educators, they need to assess and evaluate their ASPs’ environment to observe whether their components (quality of staff/instructors, educational materials, activities) are satisfactory for a child’s developmental necessity. Additionally, building partnerships with educators, parents, organizations, and public sectors help use a variety of resources in communities and, finally, in turn, improve programs. For future research, qualitative studies are recommended to observe how parents interact with their elementary school-aged children after school, inside and outside the home to understand their positive associations with parental care and delinquency.