Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Early Childhood Residential Mobility and Adolescents' Behavioral Development: The Mediating Role of Neighborhood Collective Efficacy (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

89P (see Poster Gallery) Early Childhood Residential Mobility and Adolescents' Behavioral Development: The Mediating Role of Neighborhood Collective Efficacy

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Jiho Park, MA, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Kristen Berg, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, The MetroHealth System at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Anna Bender, PhD, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Haenim Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea, Korea, Republic of (South)
Background and Purpose: A residential move is a relatively common experience for families with children in the United States. However, frequent moves (i.e., residential instability) that shift families’ proximal settings, including neighborhoods, may disrupt for optimal child development. Prior studies largely focus on the short-term effects of residential mobility on children and adolescents’ developmental outcomes, but little is known about whether residential mobility in early childhood has long-lasting effects on adolescents’ development. Additionally, relatively few studies have examined the mechanisms through which early childhood residential mobility affects adolescents’ development. This study examines 1) the associations between early childhood residential mobility and adolescents’ behavioral problems, and 2) whether neighborhood collective efficacy mediates these relationships.

Methods: This study used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal birth cohort study of children born in 1998-2000 across 20 U.S. cities. The final analysis sample included 3,775 mothers and their children. Residential mobility was measured as the cumulative number of residential moves between birth and age 5 years; at ages 1, 3, and 5, mothers reported the number of residential moves they experienced since the last interview and these three values were summed to represent early childhood residential mobility. Neighborhood collective efficacy at age 9 was assessed using a 4-point Likert scale, reflecting the mother’s perceptions of social cohesion (4 items) and informal social control (4 items). Adolescents’ behavioral development at age 15 was measured with two subscales from the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 (CBCL/ 6-18): internalizing (8 items) and externalizing (20 items) behaviors. Adolescents’ gender, mother’s race/ethnicity, mother’s education, mother’s age, marital status, and household poverty were included as covariates. All research questions were examined through findings from path analyses conducted using Mplus v.8.6.

Results: The path model had a good overall fit: CFI= .92, RMSEA= .06 (90% CI= .052-.069), and SRMR = .04. Early childhood residential mobility was directly associated with adolescents’ internalizing (β = .063, p < .01) and externalizing (β = .080, p < .001) behaviors. As hypothesized, perceived neighborhood collective efficacy partially mediated the associations between residential mobility and internalizing (indirect effect: β=.005, p <.05), and externalizing (indirect effect: β=.003, p <.05) behaviors, respectively. Higher residential mobility in early childhood was associated with lower levels of neighborhood collective efficacy, which in turn was associated with increased risk for adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors.

Conclusions and Implications: This study provides evidence of the direct effect of early childhood residential mobility on adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and the indirect effect of neighborhood collective efficacy on these associations. These findings underline the need for policy interventions targeting young children and their families who experience frequent residential moves in order to prevent potential later adverse outcomes in adolescence. Additionally, this study highlights that professionals who interact with highly mobile families should develop interventions to maximize social cohesion and informal social control in communities to support optimal child and adolescent development.