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03-10-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2016

Screening for Significant Behavior Problems in Diverse Young Children Living in Poverty

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2016
Sara E. Harris, Robert A. Fox, Casey A. Holtz


The development and use of first line screening instruments is an essential first step in assessing behavior disorders in very young children. The Early Childhood Behavior Screen (ECBS) is a parent-report measure for behavior disorders and is normed on young children (1–5 years old) living in poverty. The current study presents psychometric support for the discriminative validity of the ECBS’s 10-item Challenging Behavior Scale (CBS) as a first-line screener for externalizing behavior problems for preschool aged-children in poverty. The study’s sample included 673 participants (M age years = 2.81; 63.2 % male; 65.8 % African American) that all met the federal definitional standard for living in poverty. A confirmatory factor analysis was run to provide support for the ECBS factor structure. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analyses were used to test the CBS’s ability to distinguish between 428 clinic-referred children and 245 non-clinic-referred children. Results showed an acceptable fit model for the ECBS, providing further evidence of its construct validity. Optimal cut-scores by child age derived from the ROC curve analyses were provided with corresponding levels of sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values. Sensitivity rates for cut scores ranged from 0.76 to 0.83 and specificity rates ranged from 0.88 to 0.95. Acceptable test–retest reliability and good internal consistency also was observed. The CBS quickly identifies young children from low-income, urban, diverse populations that may be at-risk for developing significant behavior disorders and should be considered by health care professionals who work with very young children.

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