Abstract: Associations between Family Resilience, Child Flourishing, and School Engagement Among Children in Kinship Care (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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17P Associations between Family Resilience, Child Flourishing, and School Engagement Among Children in Kinship Care

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Anthony Gómez, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Sofia Guo, BA, MSW/PhD Student, University of California, Berkeley

Research examining the well-being of children in kinship care has disproportionately focused on the absence of negative biopsychosocial outcomes. While such studies are important given the multiple ecological stressors facing kinship families, few studies interrogate how kinship families promote positive outcomes such as child flourishing and school engagement. Child flourishing refers to a child's perseverance, emotion regulation, and curiosity for their surroundings. School engagement is conceptualized as a child’s general interest in and dedication to academic pursuits. In addition to being indicators of positive adjustment during childhood, research among children in the general population links child flourishing and school engagement to well-being across the lifespan.

Family resilience is the capacity for families to weather and grow through adverse circumstances by way of transactional intra- and extra-familial processes that promote mutual support, emotional catharsis, and problem solving. Family resilience processes mobilize resources that can be used to address crises and leave families strengthened and more resourceful. Despite ample research documenting the hardships experienced by kinship families, few studies examine associations between family resilience and positive indicators of child well-being.


The current study analyzes cross-sectional associations between family resilience and two positive indicators of child well-being (child flourishing and school engagement) among 1,972 school-age children whose kinship caregivers completed the National Survey of Children’s Health, an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Children (50.83% girls) were 11.47 years old on average and mostly white (52.21%) or Black (34.11%). Approximately 15.95% were Latinx. Most caregivers (Mage= 56.71 years; 77.21% women) were grandparents (74.94%). Approximately 62.98% of families lived below 200% of the federal poverty threshold. The survey did not ask whether families were child welfare-involved. Associations were tested using weighted multiple linear regression.

Independent variable

Family resilience was measured using a four-item scale assessing the frequency with which kinship families engage in family resilience processes when confronted with challenges (⍺= .90). Higher scores indicate higher family resilience.

Dependent variables

Child flourishing. Child flourishing was measured using a three-item scale assessing children’s curiosity for learning new things, ability to finish self-initiated tasks, and ability to control their emotions and actions when faced with challenges (⍺= .77). Higher total scores indicated greater flourishing.

School engagement. School engagement was measured using two items assessing how much children cared for doing well in school and the frequency of homework completion (⍺= .84). Higher scores indicated greater school engagement.


Child-level covariates included ACEs, behavior problems, internalizing problems, age, sex, race, and ethnicity. Caregiver-level covariates included mental and physical health, age, sex, marital status, education, relationship to the child, number of children, family size, and income.


Controlling for covariates, family resilience was positively associated with both child flourishing (β= .15, p< .001) and school engagement (β = .10, p= .002).


Findings suggest family resilience may promote positive outcomes among children in kinship care. Kinship navigator services that support the entire family system may be well-positioned to support the positive development of children raised by non-parental relatives.