Group care worker interventions and child problem behavior in residential youth care: Course and bidirectional associations
Number of pages
SourceChildren and Youth Services Review, 39, april, (2014), pp. 48-56
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
Children and Youth Services Review
Group care workers in residential youth care are considered important in influencing behavioral development of children. In spite of this, their role has largely been neglected in research on residential care. The aim of the current study was twofold. First, longitudinal changes in group care worker interventions and child behaviors were investigated separately. Second, bidirectional influences between group care worker interventions and child behaviors were investigated. Group care workers completed the Group care worker Intervention Checklist and Child Behavior Checklist for 128 children (66% boys, mean age 8.63 years) at the beginning of the treatment and at two measurement intervals that followed (6 and 12 months, respectively). Most results contradicted the predictions. There was no change in controlling and warm and supportive interventions by group care workers. Autonomy granting interventions increased during treatment. Second, there were no changes in externalizing and internalizing behaviors of children over time.Third, cross-lagged analyses revealed that higher levels of controlling interventions increased externalizing problems of children. In the opposite direction, higher levels of children's externalizing problems were associated with an increase in controlling interventions of group care workers. In addition, higher levels of children's internalizing problems were associated with lower subsequent levels of autonomy granting interventions. These significant longitudinal paths were found only for the first phase of treatment. This study emphasizes the potential of the role of group care workers in residential youth care. Residential institutions should be aware of the dynamics between group care workers and children. Training and ongoing supervision in effective responses to behavior problems can increase the effect of group care worker interventions on child behavioral changes.
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