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Family risk profiles and school readiness: A person-centered approach

With cumulative risk and latent class risk profile models, this study explored how multiple family risk factors experienced during the first three years of life predicted children's school readiness at age four, within a geographically and economically diverse U.S. sample. Using data from the National Institute on Child Health and Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, family risk experiences were best captured by three distinct profiles: (a) low risk (78%), (b) low resourced: single-parent, minority (12%), and (c) low resourced: parental harshness, depressed (10%). Findings indicated that early risk experiences could be described in terms of family risk profiles characterized by both sociodemographic and family processes. Cumulative risk model results suggested that a greater number of risks across infancy, toddlerhood, and early preschool years significantly predicted poorer school readiness outcomes in the prekindergarten year (i.e., lower self-regulation, early math, early literacy, and more behavior problems). Latent class risk profile results provided a similar, yet more nuanced, understanding of the relation between multiple risk and subsequent child outcomes. Specifically, children characterized by the low risk profile exhibited stronger school readiness than children characterized by the low resourced: single, minority profile who in turn exhibited stronger school readiness than those characterized by the low resourced: parental harshness, depressed profile. Results support a dual-approach to modeling family risks through both cumulative and profile analyses, and can inform efforts to integrate services to better identify the co-occurring needs of families with young children most likely to struggle with early school readiness skills. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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