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IES Grant

Title: Development of an Intervention Model to Improve Educational Outcomes of Youth in Foster Care by Decreasing Runaway Behavior
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Crosland, Kimberly Awardee: University of South Florida
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/11 – 6/30/14 Award Amount: $1,338,956
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A110180

Purpose: Children and youth with or at risk for disabilities in foster care are at increased risk for school failure due in part to a high frequency of running away from their residential placements in the child welfare system (e.g., foster home). When children and youth run away they are missing school, which leads to poor educational outcomes. The purpose of this project is to develop and pilot test an intervention package that includes a functional assessment process and a menu of assessment-based intervention strategies designed to increase placement stability and improve academic outcomes for youth with disabilities in foster care.

Project Activities: The research will take place in three phases: (1) development and feasibility testing of the assessment tool; (2) development and feasibility testing of the menu of intervention strategies; and (3) pilot testing of the intervention package. Data collected through focus groups of caregivers, foster care agency supervisors, school personnel (e.g., teachers, behavior assistants), school administrators, and youth ages 13–18 who have engaged in runaway behavior will be used to inform the development process of the assessment tool and the menu of intervention strategies. In addition, simulated role-play scenarios will be used to examine the interobserver agreement and interviewer integrity of the assessment tool. The pilot study will examine the promise of the intervention's overall impact on student behavior and academic outcomes.

Products: Products include a fully developed version of the intervention package, data on the feasibility of the use of the intervention with students with disabilities in foster care, and evidence of the potential impact of the intervention on student behavior and academic outcomes. There will also be published reports and presentations on the project.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating students will come from two school districts in Florida, each district within the service area of a different community welfare agency.

Population: A total of 30 youth with disabilities who have been involved in the child welfare system for a minimum of 6 months and have a history of running away (two or more prior runs) will participate in the pilot study. There will also be 12–16 youth participating in the initial focus groups, as well as 4 participating in the simulated role play.

Intervention: The intervention will have four components: (1) behavioral progress monitoring; (2) foster parent support; (3) skills coaching; and (4) case management. Progress monitoring data will be used to supervise weekly student and foster parent sessions. The intervention will be implemented when students are attending a self-contained day school for 3 months prior to the student transitioning back to their home middle school. It then continues in the student's home middle school for 6 months.

Research Design and Methods: An iterative, mixed-methods research design will be used to develop the intervention. The iterative design process consists of focus groups and trial implementations followed by revisions. Data from focus groups will be used to identify issues regarding the intervention's feasibility, usability, and acceptability. Focus group participants will include: (1) caregivers (foster parents, group home staff) and front-line community welfare agency personnel (caseworkers, behavior analysts); (2) supervisors (management, lead positions within the community welfare agencies); (3) teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, and behavior assistants in the school; (4) supervisory level school personnel (psychologists, vice-principals, behavior analysts); and (5) youth who have engaged in running behavior. This iterative development process includes implementing the intervention with students and refining based on feedback from stakeholders. A pilot study including both group data on change and a multiple baseline design will test the promise of the program's overall impact on student behavior and academic performance.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: Key measures include archival records (e.g., police reports, runaway hotline calls, school reports), data on running away and placement outcome data from the child welfare agencies (e.g., frequency and duration of runs), educational outcome data (attendance and behavioral records, academic records), feasibility outcomes (satisfaction, adherence, competence), and youth ratings of social validity.

Data Analytic Strategy: A variety of qualitative and quantitative (descriptive, repeated measures t-tests, analysis of variance, McNemar Chi-Square test for change) analyses will be conducted on the implementation and outcome data to demonstrate feasibility and promise. A multiple baseline design will also be used for the pilot study.


Book chapter

Miltenberger, R.G., and Crosland, K.A. (2014). Parenting. In F.K. McSweeney, and E.S. Murphy (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Operant and Classical Conditioning (pp. 509–531). New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Crosland, K.A., and Dunlap, G. (2015). Running Away From Foster Care: What do we Know and What do we do? Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(6): 1697–1706. doi:10.1007/s10826–014–9972–x

Skelton, E., Crosland, K.A., and Clark, H.B. (2016). Acquisition of a Social Problem-Solving Method by Caregivers in the Foster Care System: Evaluation and Implications. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 38(1): 32–46. doi:10.1080/07317107.2016.1135699