• Multiple Challenges in Kinship Families: How Are They Associated with Children’s Behavioral Health in Kinship Care?

      Xu, Yanfeng; Bright, Charlotte Lyn (2019)
      The use of kinship care has increased in the United States. This dissertation, comprised of three papers, aims to understand multiple challenges in kinship care and their associations with children’s behavioral health using data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW II). Paper 1 developed a new kinship typology based on financial assistance and examined factors associated with receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and foster care payments. Results from logistic regression models showed that child maltreatment, children’s externalizing problems, and receiving social services were significantly associated with receiving foster care payments. Living in poverty and a single-adult household were associated with receiving TANF. The results of paper 1 imply that child welfare workers need to increase kinship caregivers’ awareness of financial resources and to make the right resources accessible for them. Paper 2 examined longitudinal relations among economic hardship, economic pressure, TANF, foster care payments, and children’s behavioral problems in kinship care and non-relative foster care. Results of multi-level mixed-effects generalized linear models indicated that economic pressure was associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, as was receiving TANF. Receiving foster care payments was associated with lower externalizing problems. Significant interaction terms showed that foster care payments had positive effects on children’s behavioral health among families without economic hardship and families with economic pressure. The results of paper 2 imply that assessing caregivers’ subjective economic experiences is important to promoting child wellbeing. Findings point to the hardships of families that receive TANF and suggest providing financial and non-financial services to these families. Paper 3 examined the association between neighborhood disorder and children’s behavioral problems and tested the mediating role of social support and the moderating role of race/ethnicity. Results of moderated mediation regression models showed that neighborhood disorder was associated with lower social support, while more social support predicted lower children’s internalizing and externalizing problems. Social support mediated the relation between neighborhood disorder and children’s behavioral problems, but race/ethnicity did not significantly moderate the pathways. The findings of paper 3 imply that interventions are needed to enhance kinship caregivers’ social support and neighborhood quality.