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04-05-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 9/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2017

Foster Care Children’s Kinship Involvement and Behavioral Risks: A Longitudinal Study

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2017
Auteurs:
Gayle L. Blakely, Scott C. Leon, Anne K. Fuller, Grace Jhe Bai

Abstract

Researchers have found that individual strengths (e.g., coping, optimism) are protective against behavioral risk (e.g., delinquency, suicide) among traumatized youth in foster care. However, less is known about kinship involvement (i.e., extended family support) as a social strength that can also attenuate the effects of childhood trauma, thereby reducing behavioral risk. Addressing the lack of research on kinship involvement, the present longitudinal study investigated individual strengths (IS) and kinship involvement (KI) as moderators between trauma experiences (TE) and risk behaviors (RB) among 336 youth, ages 6 to 13, who entered the Illinois child welfare system between 2011 and 2014. Controlling for Time 1 (T1) RB, T1 IS, age, gender, and ethnicity, we utilized a three-level Hierarchical Generalized Linear Model to analyze TE × KI and TE × IS at T2. The study found that KI was negatively associated with RB (β16 = −.08, Event Rate Ratio [ERR] = 0.92, p = <.01), suggesting that youth with more KI had relatively lower RB trajectories. Further, the TE × IS interaction was significant in the model (β21 = −.05, ERR = 0.95, p < .01); TE was positively associated with RB at lower levels of IS but not higher levels of IS. These results highlight the importance of assessing children’s kinship networks and individual strengths early in foster care.

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