• September 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 6

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Study Shows Effectiveness of Parenting Skills Training for Kinship Caregivers

A pilot study has shown promising results for the feasibility and usefulness of a training program for strengthening the bonds between young children and their kinship caregivers. The program teaches kinship caregivers parenting skills that encourage positive behavior in young children and help to reduce caregiver stress. While previous studies have confirmed the usefulness of such training for biological and foster parents, the authors note that parenting interventions for kinship caregivers had not been investigated.

The study assessed the child-directed interaction training (CDIT) for kinship caregivers and their children who were 2–7 years old. CDIT is the first phase of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT), an evidence-based intervention for young children with a history of child abuse and neglect. PCIT focuses on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. CDIT seeks to provide caregivers with concrete skills for improving the parent-child relationship by recognizing and encouraging positive behaviors and ignoring negative behaviors. The premise is to help children learn a new approach for gaining caregiver attention.

The randomized controlled trial looked at 14 kinship caregivers with young children whom they identified as having difficult behavior problems. Half the group was assigned to the CDIT group, and the other half were placed in a waitlist condition group (i.e., the group received the intervention after the study). Study eligibility was limited to caregivers who were caring for a child between the ages of 2 and 7, who expected that child to remain in their care for the duration of the study, and whose child had a caregiver rating one standard deviation above the normative mean on the problem scale of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. Children with major visual or auditory impairment were excluded, as were those with a suspected diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Kinship caregivers in the CDIT group reported significantly fewer disruptive externalizing behaviors and significantly more positive interactions with their children than those in the waitlist group. Follow up with these families indicates they have adopted the home practices of the positive parenting skills training and show improved caregiving skills.

"Child Directed Interaction Training for Young Children in Kinship Care: A Pilot Study," by Amanda M. N'zi, Monica L. Stevens, and Sheila M. Eyberg (Child Abuse & Neglect, 55) is available at http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0145213416300229/1-s2.0-S0145213416300229-main.pdf?_tid=4218f540-787c-11e7-b5ad-00000aab0f26&acdnat=1501786254_603fe4bf37c5a3adccd655df330c9a85.

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