Children's short-term adjustment to foster care

Gail A Barna, Fordham University


Previous literature has demonstrated that home environment has a strong impact on child outcomes. Little information is known, however, about the impact of home environment on foster children's outcomes. Similarly, the research which examines how the age of the child impacts adjustment to foster care, is also quite limited. 135 foster children (ages 3 weeks to 12 years) were assessed to determine the impact of age and the foster home environment on children's short-term adjustment to foster care. The children's adaptive (using Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales) and maladaptive behaviors (using Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist; CBCL) were assessed at Time 1, within several weeks of placement, and at Time 2, after a three-month adjustment period. The quality of the foster home environment was assessed using the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment at the Time 1 assessment. A multiple regression indicated that age was a significant predictor of scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales at both the Time 1 and Time 2 assessment. Younger children had higher adaptive scores, while younger children had lower scores. Findings suggest that the younger children (under 4 years) are functioning much better when first placed in foster care, and adjust better after a three-month adjustment period than older children (4 years and older). Age was not found to be a significant predictor of CBCL scores, and home environment was not a significant predictor of adaptive or maladaptive behavior.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social work

Recommended Citation

Barna, Gail A, "Children's short-term adjustment to foster care" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9734836.