Feasibility investigation: Leveraging smartphone technology in trauma and behavior management-informed training for foster caregivers

Alexandra Sullivan, Nicole Lafko Breslend, Jessica Strolin-Goltzman, Amy Bielawski-Branch, Jennifer Jorgenson, Abigail H. Deaver, Greg Forehand, Rex Forehand - Children and Youth Services Review


Children involved in the foster care system are at high risk for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Foster and kinship caregivers need access to concrete, trauma-informed parenting strategies to effectively support the trauma-related needs of youth in their care. As technology enhancements effectively augment family-based interventions, the purpose of this study was to pilot a smartphone application (app) in the context of a trauma and behavior management-informed training for foster and kinship caregivers. Qualitative data were collected to develop and evaluate the smartphone app. Pre- and post-training data were collected from intervention (n = 20) and comparison (n = 25) groups. In order to bolster generalizability, the pilot lacked random assignment. Thus, the technology-enhanced program's effectiveness and feasibility were evaluated using the statistical approach of effect size estimates. Caregiver satisfaction with the program was evaluated using focus group interviews and consumer satisfaction data. Findings suggested the technology-enhanced program may have supported increases in parenting skills and self-efficacy, with mixed evidence regarding changes in child outcomes. Data also suggested caregivers believed the smartphone app aided in reinforcing program content. Future research replicating findings associated with this promising technology-enhanced training is necessary.