Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

School Adjustment of Children in Residential Care: A Multi-Source Analysis

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

School Adjustment of Children in Residential Care: A Multi-Source Analysis

Article excerpt

School adjustment is one the greatest challenges in residential child care programs. This study has two aims: to analyze school adjustment compared to a normative population, and to carry out a multisource analysis (child, classmates, and teacher) of this adjustment. A total of 50 classrooms containing 60 children from residential care units were studied. The "Método de asignación de atributos perceptivos" (Allocation of perceptive attributes; Díaz-Aguado, 2006), the "Test Autoevaluativo Multifactorial de Adaptación Infantil" (TAMAI [Multifactor Self-assessment Test of Child Adjustment]; Hernández, 1996) and the "Protocolo de valoración para el profesorado (Evaluation Protocol for Teachers; Fernández del Valle, 1998) were applied. The main results indicate that, compared with their classmates, children in residential care are perceived as more controversial and less integrated at school, although no differences were observed in problems of isolation. The multi-source analysis shows that there is agreement among the different sources when the externalized and visible aspects are evaluated. These results are discussed in connection with the practices that are being developed in residential child care programs.

Keywords: residential child care, child protection, school adjustment, multi-source analysis.

La adaptación escolar es uno de los mayores retos pendientes de los programas de acogimiento residencial de menores. Este trabajo tiene dos objetivos: analizar dicha adaptación en comparación con la población normativa, y realizar un análisis multi-fuente (menor, compañeros y profesor) de la misma. Se estudiaron un total de 50 aulas a las que pertenecen 60 menores que viven en dispositivos de acogimiento residencial. Se aplicaron el método de asignación de atributos perceptivos (Díaz-Aguado, 2006), el Test Autoevaluativo Multifactorial de Adaptación Infantil (Hernández, 1996) y el protocolo de valoración para el profesorado (Fernández del Valle, 1998). Los principales resultados indican que los menores de acogimiento residencial, al ser comparados con sus compañeros, son percibidos como más conflictivos y menos integrados escolarmente, aunque no se observan diferencias en los problemas de aislamiento. El análisis multi-fuente muestra que existe acuerdo entre las diferentes fuentes cuando lo que se valora son los aspectos externalizados y visibles de la adaptación escolar. En cambio, tanto el profesorado como los iguales tienen dificultades para percibir los aspectos más internalizados de la adaptación escolar. Estos resultados se discuten en relación a la práctica que se viene desarrollando desde los programas de acogimiento residencial.

Palabras clave: acogimiento residencial, protección infantil, adaptación escolar, análisis multi-fuente.

Within the systems of childhood protection, residential care (RC) has historically played an essential role, providing an alternative for children who are immersed in a situation of neglect, and for whom a protective measure other than RC is impossible, at least at the beginning. These facilities have been the object of what Fernández del Valle and Fuertes (2000) call unspecific critique, a term that describes the widely extended idea that RC is a resource that harms the development of the minors who undergo it, therefore considering it a last protective resort, to be used only when other measures are impossible. This idea has increased with the contributions of many investigations, most of them of a clinical and epidemiological nature, that study the personal, behavioral, and social problematic displayed by minors who have lived in the RC facilities. A recent revision of these works can be seen in Johnson, Browne, and Hamilton-Giachritsis (2006). Nevertheless, the conclusions of these investigations are being challenged because of a basic methodological error: They do not differentiate possible problems caused by RC from the problems produced by the prior situation of neglect that led to these children's admittance into these facilities (Fernández del Valle, 2003; Martín, Rodríguez, & Torbay, 2007). …

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