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Residential mobility predicts behavioral problems for children living in non-parental care during the transition to kindergarten

The present study examines the extent to which residential mobility during the transition to kindergarten (cumulative moves during prekindergarten and kindergarten) is related to externalizing and internalizing behavior problems for children from low-income families who are living in non-parental care. A second, exploratory aim of this study was to investigate whether family service receipt moderated these relations. Data were obtained from the Head Start Impact Study. The sample included 300 children (53% male) who were eligible for Head Start. Residential mobility was conceptualized as three dichotomous variables: never moved, moved 1-2 times, and moved 3 or more times during the prekindergarten and kindergarten years. Predictor and outcome data were collected in the spring of prekindergarten and kindergarten. Moving three or more times was significantly related to more externalizing and internalizing behavior problems in kindergarten, controlling for family and child covariates, as well as for children's behavior problems in prekindergarten. Receipt of family services moderated the association between moving three or more times and externalizing problems, but not internalizing problems. This relation was in the opposite direction than expected, however, such that children who moved frequently and received more services demonstrated more externalizing problems than their peers. Implications of study findings for supporting highly mobile children living in non-parental care and directions for future research are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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