University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Developmental Adjustment in Adolescents Growing Up in Childcare Institutions in Romania

Misca, Gabriela ORCID: (2008) Developmental Adjustment in Adolescents Growing Up in Childcare Institutions in Romania. In: Assessing the “Evidence-base” of Intervention for Vulnerable Children and Their Families. Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padova, Italy. ISBN 88-88843-24-8

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This paper describes the findings of a research study comparing one hundred Romanian adolescents (aged between 12 and 16) who had lived for several years in residential childcare with one hundred adolescents who have always lived with their two-parent families. The effect of type of rearing (in institution/with parental family) on adolescents’ developmental adjustment was explored in respect of a number of outcome variables: emotional and behavioural strengths and difficulties (assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ - Goodman, 1997), intellectual development (assessed by the Standard Progressive Matrices, SPM - Raven et al., 1988), and school performance (assessed from school reports supplemented by accounts from teachers).
Variations in adolescents’ behaviour, cognitive development and school performance within the institutional care group were considered in relation to a series of variables that reflect different types of possible mediating, risk and protective factors, such as: age at admission into institutional care and length of institutional placement; family experience prior to admission; and amount of contact with parents/families during institutional placement and the presence/absence of a sibling within same the residential unit.
The behaviour patterns that emerged from the present data as being strongly associated with institutional rearing (by their prevalence in the borderline/clinical rage) were higher levels of conduct problems and less pro-social behaviour, as well as more self-reported peer problems. Teenagers living in care had average levels of intellectual development and average school performances, but they exhibited more school difficulties and problematic school behaviour.
The three behavioural patterns which emerged as strongly associated with institutional rearing in the present study seem to be mediated by different factors. Informant-reported conduct problems seem to be particularly increased in teenagers who had infrequent and inconsistent contact with their families. The relatively short duration of institutionalisation seems to play a protective role regarding teenagers’ pro-social behaviour, whereas coming from a disrupted/conflictual familial background represents a risk in terms of teenagers’ pro-social behaviour. The level of self-reported peer problems was reduced for teenagers who had a sibling living with them. Teenagers’ levels of intellectual development and school performance do not seem to be mediated by their experiences before or after admission into care.
This research is particularly important because no systematic studies have previously been conducted with children living in state care institutions in Romania. It enables comparison with studies of Romanian ‘orphans’ adopted internationally in the early 1990s. The findings reflect a configuration of adjustment difficulties which differs from that reported by these studies, suggesting that assumptions of ‘institutional deprivation’ should be reconsidered.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information:

The book gathers the papers presented at the 10th Eusarf International Conference on: "Assessing the "evidence-base" of intervention for vulnerable children and their families - Conoscere i bisogni e valutare l'efficacia degli interventi per bambini e famiglie in difficoltà" (Padova, Italy, 26-20 March 2008).

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: vulnerable children, Romania, adolescents, childcare institutions
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Gabriela Misca
Date Deposited: 16 May 2016 09:02
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:10

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