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  • September 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 6

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Kinship Involvement Linked to Better Psychological Adjustment for Youth

Youth in foster care have fewer psychological adjustment issues and negative behaviors when extended and noncustodial family members are involved in their lives, according to a recent study.

The study looks beyond the negative effects of maltreatment on 171 youth who entered foster care to independently consider the psychological impact of nuclear family dysfunction. The authors define family dysfunction as nuclear family interpersonal relationships lacking in mutual support, free expression, and the ability to manage conflict. The study examines resulting negative external behaviors, such as aggression, delinquency, or substance use, and negative internal behaviors, such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation.

Study results show that greater family dysfunction and child maltreatment are associated with greater internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. While the study finds that kinship involvement can mitigate youth's externalizing behaviors, that benefit is less obvious for internalizing behaviors. In youth from families with low levels of dysfunction, kinship involvement appears to reduce negative internalizing behaviors. As stress levels and dysfunction increase, however, those benefits are not as apparent.

"The Protective Effect of Kinship Involvement on the Adjustment of Youth in Foster Care," by Grace Jhe Bai, Scott C. Leon, James Garbarino, and Anne K. Fuller (Child Maltreatment, 21) is available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1077559516669043.
 

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