Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Family poverty has been found to predict a number of negative outcomes across a multitude of domains of child development, including health, education, language and cognitive development (Reiss, 2013; Yoshikawa, Aber & Beardslee, 2012). Furthermore, studies examining differing prevalence rates of mental illness depending on socioeconomic status have found that children liv-ing in poverty in the United States are between two and three times as likely to meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder when compared to their higher SES counterparts (McLaughlin et al, 2011; Reiss, 2013). Family poverty has been found to predict internalizing psychopathology risk across childhood and adolescence, and this relation is thought to operate multi-dimensionally through a number of factors associated with the experience of childhood poverty (Gilman, Kawachi, Fitzmau-rice, & Buka, 2003). One factor that has been identified linking family poverty to child outcomes is maternal depression (Barker et al., 2012; Raposa, Hammen, Brennan & Najman, 2014). Maternal depression has repeatedly been implicated in negative outcomes for youth living in the context of poverty (Goodman, Rouse, Connell, Broth, Hall & Heyward, 2011; Kiernan & Huerta, 2008; Wachs, Black & Engle, 2009), and several studies have demonstrated that poverty's effects on children are mediated by maternal depressive symptoms (Beeber & Miles, 2003; Mistry et al., 2004; Petterson & Albers, 2001). the current study examined whether maternal depressive symp-toms mediate the effect of family poverty on child depressive symptoms in a sample of 104 low-income Mexican immigrant families. in addition to understanding mechanisms that transmit risk, researchers have underscored the demand for discovering evidence-based resilience factors for children living in poverty in order to inform prevention and intervention efforts (Yoshikawa et al., 2012). One area that may be fruitful in this pursuit is the identification of internal and external resources that increase the likelihood that individuals will experience positive outcomes in adverse contexts, termed developmental assets (Shtasel-Gottlieb, Palakshappa, Yang & Goodman, 2015). at the community level, developmental assets have been theorized to include institutional resources, defined as the quality, quantity, and diversity of organizations that provide services to members of the members of the community (Sampson et al., 2002). the current study tested whether such community-level developmental as-sets (Catholic churches, mental health centers, after school programming) serve to buffer the impact of family poverty on maternal depression. Further, the moderating impact of these community- level developmental assets on the relation between maternal depression and child depression symptoms was examined. Likewise, to assess the impact of school-level developmental assets on the relation between maternal depression and child depression outcomes, the current study evaluated whether ratings of school climate act as a buffer for risk.

Creative Commons License

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

Available for download on Thursday, April 27, 2023