Date of Award

7-13-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Robert L. Heasley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John A. Anderson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Barbara Mooney, Ed.D.

Abstract

Empowerment initiatives like the Family Development Credential (FDC) and Family Support (FS) program demonstrate how strengths-based practice can be used to help family workers become successful in partnering with families to help them reach their goals. As these two initiatives converged in Allegheny County Pennsylvania in 2005, families, workers, advocates and policy-makers in FS aimed to improve the skills of workers and improve School Readiness outcomes for children by increasing parent involvement and the regular assessment of child developmental milestones. The theoretical basis for this study can be found in tenets of the Ecology of Human Development which posits that the interactions of human are connected to the family and social systems of their environment (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner, Moen and Garbarino, 1984; Bronfenbrenner and Evans, 2000; Forest, 2006). Using a quasi-experimental pre/post test comparison group design this study investigated whether the FDC program impacted the Family Support goal of School Readiness and related child outcomes. It compares the results of micro level interactions on parent involvement and child delay for children with family workers trained in FDC to those who were not. Findings from this study revealed that parent involvement scores varied depending on the status of the FDC worker (trained or untrained) and the race of the child. Prior to implementation of the FDC program (FDC1), parent involvement scores for Black children were lower than those of White children. Once FDC was implemented, for children with FDC trained workers(FDC2), parent involvement scores for Black children increased and no statistically significant difference was found between the races. After the implementation of FDC, for children who had workers without FDC training (FDC3), a statistically significant difference was found in the parent involvement scores; scores for White children were lower than those for Blacks and Black children’s’ parent involvement scores which had increased with FDC workers, stayed at the same level. Although the study did not find that FDC had an impact on child developmental delays, it did find that girls were less likely to be delayed than boys and older children were more likely to be delayed then younger children.

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