Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The present study examined the contribution of characteristics of the family-of-origin, such as family functioning, to foster youth's psychological adjustment. With particular attention paid to foster youth's broader social contexts after separation from biological parents, this study also examined how kinship support influences the impact of child maltreatment and dysfunction of family-of-origin on foster youth's subsequent adjustment. Unlike previous studies, specific types of relatives (e.g., maternal aunt, paternal uncle, maternal great aunt, paternal grandmother) and their varying involvements were identified. Participants included 171 children and adolescents (mean age = 10.15; 50.3% male). Hierarchical ordinary least squares regressions were conducted to examine the protective effects of kinship support, age, and race/ethnicity. Results indicated that the intensity of dysfunction of family-of-origin and that of maltreatment were both independently associated with internalizing and externalizing behavior problems among youth in foster care. Moreover, consistent with hypotheses, kinship support was found to have a positive influence on foster youth's externalizing behaviors. However, kinship support was found to have a protective-reactive effect on internalizing behavior problems among foster youth, such that it buffered the adverse effects of dysfunction in family-of-origin only when the intensity of dysfunction was low. These results suggest that the intensity of familial stress or dysfunction that youth in foster care are exposed may be too overwhelming for kinship support to remain protective in more stressful situations. The results of the current study highlight the need to consider environments of family-of-origin when deciding on services youth need upon entering foster care. Future research should examine the predictive effect of kinship support by using larger longitudinal data and continue to examine protective factors in different layers of ecology to promote better outcomes among youth in foster care.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, August 18, 2017

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