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01-10-2013 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2013

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2013

Food Insecurity: Validation of a Two-Item Screen Using Convergent Risks

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2013
Taren M. Swindle, Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Lorraine McKelvey


Food insecurity impacts children in over 10 % of US homes with negative effects for health, cognitive, and behavioral development. Experiences of food insecurity in childhood also carry negative consequences across the lifespan. Families cannot be connected with needed services when needs are unidentified. However, early detection is essential if the harmful effects of food insecurity are to be limited for children. An efficient and valid screen of food insecurity is needed for use by practitioners such as childcare providers, home visitors, or other intervention program staff working with low-income families. The present study provides evidence of validity for a 2-item screen for food insecurity as conducted by childcare providers. Concurrence with a wide range of convergent validity indicators suggests that 2 items can sufficiently identify families with food insecurity. Convergent indicators included other basic needs, physical health, environmental safety, caregiver mental health, parenting practices, and parenting stress. Sensitivity and specificity analyses also support the use of this screen. This study is the first to document the utility of a brief screen for food insecurity by childcare providers. With an efficient screen, these front-line service providers can be a valuable resource to identify and combat FI and its deleterious effects on children.

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