Canadian Research in Brief

Preliminary effects of a group-based tutoring program for children in long-term foster care

(2012), Children and Youth Services Review, 34(6): 1176-1182.

Harper, Julie

Schmidt, Fred

A randomized wait-list control study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of a small group-based direct instruction tutoring for children in foster care, using the Teach Your Children Well (TYCW) program. The program was delivered after school by university student volunteers for 2 hours each week, over a period of 25 weeks in total. Participants were deemed eligible to participate if they were in grades 2 through 8, residing in either kinship or foster care, and identified as being behind in academic achievement.  A total of 68 youth were referred by their child welfare case workers to participate – 33 of which were randomly assigned to receive the intervention, and the other 35 were assigned to the control group. The total sample primarily consisted of Aboriginal children (73.5%). Academic achievement was measured at pre-test and post-test using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-4), which measures word reading, sentence comprehension, spelling and math computation and yields a reading composite score. Analysis was conducted using ANCOVA, controlling for pre-test scores, revealed a significant effect on word reading (g = 0.42) and spelling (g = 0.38), but no significant effects were found on sentence comprehension and math computation. The authors indicate that there was some difficulty experienced in the implementation of the math component of the TYCW program, which may have resulted in a lower dose of mathematics tutoring and subsequently less improvement in the subject area. It is also suggested that the inclusion of interactive reading time with a caregiver may help improve sentence comprehension scores.