Multilevel correlates of behavioral resilience among children in child welfare

download file
Child Abuse and Neglect, 37(11): 1007-1020

Resilience, defined as positive adaptation and functioning following exposure to significant adversity, is an important topic of investigation in child welfare. The current study used data from the Ontario Looking After Children (OnLAC) project to estimate the prevalence of behavioral resilience (i.e., lower frequency of conduct and emotional problems, higher frequency of prosocial behavior) in 531 5–9 year olds living in out-of-home care, and to determine how behaviorally-resilient children are functioning in other domains (i.e., peer relationships and academic performance). Furthermore, hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine the contribution of four levels of analysis (i.e., child, family, child welfare worker, and child welfare agency) on behaviors and to identify the contribution of predictor variables within each of these levels. Findings indicated that 50–70% of children exhibited resilience on one behavioral outcome while approximately 30% showed resilience on at least two of the outcomes. Also, 8.4–9.6% exhibited resilience on one of the behavioral outcomes in addition to peer relationships and academic performance. The child level accounted for the highest proportion of total explained variance in behavioral outcomes, followed by the family-, child welfare worker-, and child welfare agency-levels. A number of child and foster family variables predicted behavioral functioning. Findings indicate that it is important to inquire about children's functioning across multiple domains to obtain a comprehensive developmental assessment. Also, child and foster family characteristics appear to play considerable roles in the promotion of behavioral resilience.

Canadian CW research
Journal article