Discriminating baseline indicators for (un)favorable psychosocial development in different 24-h settings

Harmke Leloux-Opmeer, Chris H. Z. Kuiper, Hanna T. Swaab, Evert M. Scholte - Children and Youth Services Review


The study consisted of a comparative follow-up study with a pretest-posttest design which explored the association between baseline child, family, and care characteristics and the psychosocial development of 121 schoolaged Dutch children (M age = 8.78 years; SD = 2.34 years; 47% female; 59% Caucasian) during their first year of placement in foster care (FC), family-style group care (FGC), and residential care (RC). Potential baseline characteristics were collected from both literature data and pretest data, and measured with standardized questionnaires and case file information. The outcome measure (degree of psychosocial development) was based on pretest and posttest ASEBA measurements of substitute caregivers, by calculating the reliable change index (RCI). Based on this, 58% of the children had favorable psychosocial development, with no significant differences across the settings. Results indicated that sets of baseline characteristics were able to distinguish different groups of favorably developing children as well as unfavorably developing children in different settings, whereby unfavorable development could be estimated more accurately. A history of maltreatment proved to be an important risk factor, particularly for family-based settings (FC, FGC). Furthermore, results indicated that specialized treatment is needed for severe individual problems in children in FGC, as these problems were associated with unfavorable psychosocial development for them in particular. With regard to residentially placed children, child mental illness specifically negatively affected their prognosis. Further research is needed to refine the results in order to make them suitable for both supporting decision-making processes and monitoring out-ofhome placements.