Statement of the Problem
The study examines how foster care creates problem behaviors among children because they exhibit externalizing and internalizing behaviors in their youthful period. As children transition from their families into the foster care system, they experience grief, loss, worry, and anxiety due to drastic social changes in their lives (Cooley, Wojciak, & Mullis, 2015). Consequently, children who exit the foster care system exhibit negative outcomes such as drug abuse, mental illnesses, homelessness, overreliance on society, and incarceration for they do not have the enduring resilience to cope with numerous challenges in life.
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Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to evaluate how youths and caregivers perceive their relationships relative to the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Rubin and Babbie (2011) assert that a study should have an unambiguous purpose and clear aim to guide researchers through the course of a research process. In this view, the study aims to establish how children’s perceptions of their relationships with their caregivers influence externalizing and internalizing behaviors during the adolescent period (Cooley et al., 2015).
The findings of this study are important for they enhance understanding of adolescent outcomes of children in the foster care system. Additionally, the findings illuminate how foster families and foster parenting should alleviate negative perceptions and lessen problem behaviors exhibited by children in foster care during the adolescent period.
Type of Study
This study is a quantitative type of study because it used figures in measuring the degree of relationships and the extent of externalizing and internalizing behaviors exhibited. The study used secondary data collected over 15 months from October 1999 to December 2000 by the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (Cooley et al., 2015). The youth used Youth Self-Report in the assessment of their externalizing and internalizing behaviors while the caregivers used the Child Behavior Checklist in assessing externalizing and internalizing behaviors of the youth (Cooley et al., 2015). Moreover, two Likert items on a five-point scale were used to measure the degree of perceptions of the relationship between the youth and the caregivers.
The Study Design
The study design used in this research is descriptive design. According to Cooley et al. (2015), the study used data generated from a longitudinal study undertaken nationally in 15 months. Creswell (2014) explains that descriptive research design is a robust design because it quantifies and structures variables and their respective data allowing researchers to make statistical inferences based on valid data. Hence, the longitudinal study employed a descriptive design for the data collected aimed to describe the relationship between perceptions of youth and caregivers on the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors.
Analysis of the literature review shows that the study identified and described the findings of previous studies. Essentially, the study examined previous studies, which indicate that the foster care system contributes to the problem behaviors related to externalizing and internalizing tendencies (Cooley et al., 2015). Moreover, most of the references used in the literature review are current for their publication dates are not beyond 2000. In the literature review, the researchers criticize some studies used and identify research gap.
The criticism of Cooley et al. (2015) is that scholars have ignored the role of perceptions of youth and caregivers on externalizing and internalizing behaviors despite glaring evidence that children in foster care tend to experience problem behaviors in their adolescent period. The study describes the current knowledge of the research problem indicating its magnitude by the number of children in the foster care system (about 0.5 million) and their vulnerability to exhibit and experience problem behaviors.
List of Research Objectives, Questions, Hypotheses, and Variables
The objective of the study is to compare the perceptions of youth and caregivers on externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Another objective of the study is to illuminate the influence of perceptions of the relationship between youth and caregivers on the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors.
The research question of the study is that does the extent of relationships that children have with their caregivers in the foster care determine the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors?
Based on the previous studies, the study hypothesized that the perception of positive relationships between youths and caregivers lessens the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors.
The perception of the relationship between youth and caregivers is an independent variable while externalizing and internalizing behaviors comprise the dependent variable.
As the sampling criteria, the study selected children who have been in the long-term foster care and the child protective services. The children in the foster care were under caregivers while children in the child protective services were in their homes (Cooley et al., 2015). The selected youths should have been in the long-term care for at least a year and present during the period of study (from October 1999 to December 2000). The sample size of 188 participants was used in determining the influence of perceptions of relationships between caregivers and youths on the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors (Cooley et al., 2015). The sample size was large to enhance external validity and decrease sampling error.
As characteristic of the sample, the participants were adolescents (98 males and 90 females) with the ages ranging from 11- to 16 years (M = 13, SD = 1.4) (Cooley et al., 2015). Out of 188 participants, 36, 35, 25, and 21 were Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnicities respectively. Moreover, 84, 36, 31, and 37 were in foster homes, kinship care, group homes, and other social settings in that order.
All these youths experienced abuses in their childhood as 24, 98, 16, 20, and 30 experienced physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of abuses correspondingly. The type of caregiver varied in that 19, 44, 122, and 3 were under a biological parent, relative placement, foster care, and adoptive placement respectively. The study has no sample mortality drop out because it used secondary data obtained from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being.
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In the selection of participants, the study used a non-random method of sampling. Out of 6200 children, the study selected 188 who met the inclusion criteria. According to Creswell (2014), convenience sampling entails the use of predefined criteria in selecting participants of a study. In this view, the study employed convenience method of sampling, which is prone to sampling bias. However, since the study selected all samples meeting the inclusion criteria, it represents the youths who have gone through the long-term foster care and are under caregivers. Thus, the target population of the study is adolescents aged between 11 and 16 years with the childhood experience of abuse and brought up in foster care settings.
Data Measurement Methods
The data collection entailed the examination of data surveyed by the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being and collecting data of participants who met the inclusion criteria. The data was collected during the period of 15 months (from October 1999 to December 2000) from 6200 children in 97 countries. The study did not indicate how it dealt with ethical requirements of informed consent and confidentiality. The questionnaires used in the study collected data regarding perceptions of youths and caregivers on the externalizing and internalizing behaviors and the nature of the relationship between youths and caregivers.
Measurements and Instruments
The study used three research instruments, namely, the Youth Self-Report, the Child Behavior Checklist, and relationship perception questionnaire. The Self-Report comprises 33 items for externalizing behaviors with the reliability of 0.84 and 37 items for internalizing behaviors with the reliability 0.85. Collectively, the validity of the Youth-Self Reporting is 0.96, and reliability is 0.8 (Cooley et al., 2015). The Child Behavior Checklist has 133 items with the validity of 0.80 and the reliability of 0.91. The relationship perception questionnaire comprises two items on a five-point Likert scale with the validity of 0.82.
The study performed data analysis using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percent in the distribution of respondents among demographic variables. Inferential statistics such as correlation, simple linear regression, and hierarchical multiple regressions were used in determining the degree of relationship between perceptions of relationships and externalizing and internalizing behaviors.
Interpretation of the Findings
The analysis of results shows that there are related to the framework of the study for they measure the degree of relationship between the perceptions of the relationship between caregivers and the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors. The findings that were in line with the expectations are the existence of a statistically significant relationship between caregivers’ perceptions and youths’ perceptions of both the externalizing behaviors and the internalizing behaviors. However, the unexpected findings were the existence of a statistically insignificant relationship between youths’ perception of relationships and internalizing behavior. The study did not describe serendipitous findings for all the outcomes were within the expected limits.
Generalization of the Findings
The study stated that the findings apply to children and youth in various social settings. As the relationship between youths and caregivers offers protective influence on the occurrence of externalizing and internalizing behaviors, the study recommends the application of positive relationships in alleviating problem behaviors.
The study has series of implication to research, training, policy, and future practice. Due to the benefits of positive relationships, future research should determine if child-caregiver relationship shapes internal processes of children and influences their behaviors during the adolescent period. In policy, the implication is that the findings suggest equipping foster parents with knowledge and skills to create effective relationships to alleviate problem behaviors. Moreover, the findings support training of parents and caregivers to help children cope with problem behaviors.
Suggestions for Future Studies
- Gather dyadic information from caregivers and youths in various social settings to provide robust findings that illuminate deep relationships.
- Use a validated measure of perception to enhance the external and internal validity of the findings.
The missing element of the study is the literature review section. Ethical clearance is also missing is the study for the study dealt with the data obtained from human subjects.
Sufficiency of Description
The review of research questions, objectives, hypothesis, and methodology shows that their descriptions are very clear to allow replication.
Test of Study
Since the total scores of the study rating are 14, it means that the study is adequate for it covers basic requirements of research.
Cooley, M., Wojciak, A., & Mullis, H. (2015). The association between perception of relationship with caregivers and behaviors of youth in foster care: A child and caregiver perspective. Journal of Social Work Practice, 29(2), 205-221.
Creswell, W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Rubin, A., & Babbie, R. (2011). Research methods for social work. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage.