AVAILABILITY, PREDICTABILITY AND SCHOOL ADJUSTMENT OF THE FOSTER CHILD
RAND, MARK J.
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This study consists of an attempt to explore factors which might be related to the assessed school adjustment of children in foster care who are between the ages of 7 - 12. The major hypotheses were: (a) the more information about the foster care plan provided to the child (termed Predictability) the higher the degree of psychological adjustment as rated by the child's teacher, and (b) increased maternal availability is related to a higher level of assessed school adjustment.;Subjects were selected from the population of children under the care of the Southern Regional office of New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services. After selecting the sample based on demographic and placement factors, complete analyzable data were obtained for 53 subjects. Each was classified on a 5-interval scale for Predictability and a 5-interval scale for Maternal Availability. The sample was also grouped as high or low on these factors. School adustment was rated along the Total Scale score of the PRF and on four identified subfactors: scholastic motivation, emotional stability, extraversion and harmony. Data were analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance technique and a chi-square. Except for a chi-square value showing an inverse relationship between predictability and scholastic motivation (p < .05), no significant relationships were found. In analyzing anecdotal information in a secondary analysis, a significant degree of correlation was found between a child's having a parent with a criminal record and poor school adjustment. Children whose mothers made impulsive but ineffective moves towards reunion showed improvement in scholastic motivation, emotional stability and harmony during their time in foster care. Conclusions drawn included: (a) the high degree of pre-placement deprivation of our sample outweighed any differential effects of variations in Predictability and Maternal Availability, (b) variations in Predictability are insignificant when compared with the traumatic effects of foster care placement on the children, and (c) increased agency activity associated with high Predictability introduces a complex of variables, the effects of which need further study.