Methods: The study included 827 children who were 3‒5 years of age at baseline (Mage = 3.96) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW-II). Resilience was conceptualized as a multidimensional construct and measured at baseline, using multiple instruments, including the Preschool Language Scale-3, the Social Skills Rating System, the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale Screener, and the Child Behavior Checklist. At the 3-year follow-up, children’s academic achievement was assessed using the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement (WJ-III) and children’s school engagement was evaluated using the Drug-Free Schools Outcome Study Questions (DFSCA). Control variables included child age, sex, race/ethnicity, child abuse and neglect, poverty, and caregiver’s education level. We conducted a three-step latent profile analysis (LPA) with distal outcomes, using Mplus v.8 to examine the associations between profiles of resilience and future school outcomes.
Results: The study results revealed that children with the low emotional and behavioral resilience profile and children with the multi-domain resilience profile at baseline showed significantly higher levels of basic reading skills, reading comprehension, and math reasoning at the 3-year follow up, compared to children with the low cognitive resilience profile at baseline. Children with the multi-domain resilience profile showed significantly higher levels of emotional school engagement than those with the low emotional and behavioral resilience profile at baseline. Additionally, children with the multi-domain resilience profile showed higher levels of behavioral school engagement than those with the low cognitive resilience profile.
Conclusions/Implications: The findings highlight persistent effects of early resilience into the later childhood years among children involved with the child welfare system. Further, our findings suggest the need for early identification of and intervention for children with low cognitive resilience or low emotional/behavioral resilience during the preschool years in order to promote academic success and school engagement during the school-age years. Considering that our results indicated lower levels of emotional engagement in school among children who had low emotional and behavioral resilience during early childhood, targeted interventions may be provided to this population during early school age to help them gain positive thoughts and emotions about school. Further, it would be crucial to test whether interventions to improve language ability among young children with low cognitive resilience (i.e., those experiencing challenges with language development) provide long-term benefits for children’s academic achievement and behavioral engagement in school during the school-age period.