Review of Literature in Foster Care – Qualitative and Quantitative Research Articles

Subject: 💭 Psychology
Type: Critical Analysis Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1727
Topics: 🧒 Childhood Trauma, Childhood
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This paper reviewed the literature of two primary research articles on the topic of foster care that utilized different research methodologies. The first article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) titled “Exploring the Helpfulness of Arts-based methods with Children living in Foster Care” utilized the qualitative methodology. On the other hand, the second article by Fisher, Kim, Pears, and Yoerger (2013) titled “Early School Engagement and Late Elementary Outcomes for Maltreated Children in Foster Care” employed the quantitative methodology. This review comparatively investigated the theoretical frameworks in the two articles. Succeeding sections of this paper provide a reflection of the articles’ theoretical frameworks under the headings of general description of the research topic, specific research problems covered in each article, research questions/hypotheses in each article, and the contributions of each article to the existing knowledge base in foster care.

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General Description of the Research Topic

The two articles studied the psychosocial challenges encountered by children in the foster care system. In the United States, the foster care system serves the purpose of providing support and protection for children who are victims of parental or guardianship neglect, abuse, and abandonment (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013). Primarily, the foster care system strives to provide temporary comfort and stability for vulnerable children. The children are taken to foster care primarily because their birth parents cannot provide parental care for reasons ranging from parental irresponsibility and substance abuse to domestic violence and death of a parent.

In 2010, data from the Federal Children Welfare revealed that there were over 450,000 children in the foster care system across the United States (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013). All the children in the foster care system were being temporarily cared for, and will eventually be either reunified with their biological parents or processed for adoption. Whatever the eventuality, the children in foster care face more challenges including poor attachment to their primary caregivers and maltreatment compared to the children outside of the foster care. Consequent to the challenges, the children in foster care commonly develop negative psychosocial outcomes.

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The negative psychosocial outcomes experienced by children in foster care include but not limited to poor academic performances, early substance abuse, and deviant peer associations. In the professional field of developmental psychology, it is important to understand the impacts of the psychosocial outcomes in the children’s lives so as to devise better intervention methods. Workers in the psychological field interact with maltreated children from the foster care system on a daily basis. Most of the maltreated children exhibit signs of trauma; hence, the professional psychologists must employ effective treatment methods to counter the trauma.

Research Problems in each Article

The first article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) utilized the qualitative methodology to explain the usefulness of arts-based therapy as a treatment method for traumatized children in the foster care. The research in the article used the arts-based group therapy method to enhance the aspects of self-esteem and self-awareness among the traumatize children (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009). Apparently, most of the children in foster care experienced trauma in their early stages of development. The early traumatic experiences render the children in foster care developing symptoms of traumatic reactions including the poor senses of self, limited social skills, noncompliant behavior and difficulty regulating emotions (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009). Thus, the article strived to explain how the arts-based therapy could be used as an effective intervention method among traumatized children in foster care.

The researchers’ rationale for selecting the topic of arts-based therapy was informed by the fact that traumatic experiences affect the children’s brain development negatively. Thus, responding to the habitual responses of the trauma symptoms require the use of therapy methods meant to correct the affected brain structures (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009). The arts-based therapy methods have been reported to offer positive results among trauma survivors. In particular, the arts-based group therapy method is effective in restoring self-awareness and group cohesion among traumatized victims. In practice, arts-based therapy methods entail the use of guided imagery techniques including painting, clay molding and drawing to foster mindfulness and relaxation among the trauma survivors; hence, restoring optimal brain functioning (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009).

The second article by Fisher, Kim, Pears and Yoerger (2013) employed the quantitative methodology to understand the intervention measures to change the psychosocial trajectories of maltreated children in foster care. The research in the article wanted to understand the psychosocial effects of the levels of early school engagement for maltreated children in foster care, and use the understanding to change the levels of school engagement for the children in late elementary stages and into adulthood (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013). The maltreated children in foster care exhibit low levels of engagement in the cognitive, behavioral and affective dimensions. The low levels of early school engagement promote the poor psychosocial outcomes. Thus, increasing the levels of school engagement in the early stages would yield positive psychosocial outcomes in the late elementary stages.

The researchers for this article relied on the rationale that high levels of early school engagement were associated with high academic performance, low tendencies for drug abuse, and low incidences of juvenile delinquency. Technically, the maltreated children in foster care have shown signs of increase delinquency, early initiations to substance abuse, and poor academic performances (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the manipulation of the levels of early school engagement in the cognitive, behavioral and affective dimensions would prove effective in changing the poor psychosocial outcomes among the maltreated children in foster care. Therefore, this second article used to the quantitative method to study a possible intervention method for the poor psychosocial outcomes of children in foster care.

Research Questions/Hypotheses in each Article

The first article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) adopted these two research questions saying, “What is the depth and complexity of the holistic arts-based group therapy method? How is the arts-based group therapy method perceived as helpful (or not) by the participants?” (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009, p. 68) The participants interviewed during the research included the sampled children in foster care, the foster parents and the children’s caseworkers. The two research questions were answered by determining the challenges in the implementation of the arts-based group therapy method and the perceptions of the participants after exposure to the therapy methods.

Regarding the alignment to the underlying research problem, the questions in the article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) were sufficiently aligned towards understanding the effectiveness of the art-based group therapy method as an intervention for posttraumatic experiences. The first question on the complexity of the arts-based method wanted to assess the prevalent notion that arts-based interventions were superior to other therapies because they are holistic (Cadell, Coholic & Lougheed, 2009). On the other hand, the second question on the perceived usefulness of the arts-based method wanted to determine whether or not the participants benefited from the therapy approach. Therefore, the questions were well designed to meet the intended purposes about the usefulness of the arts-based group therapy method in helping traumatized children in foster care.

The second article by Fisher, Kim, Pears and Yoerger (2013) adopted the first hypothesis saying, “Maltreated children in foster care showed lower levels of school engagement in the academic, behavioral and affective dimensions compared to their non-maltreated peers out of foster care” (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013, p. 2214). The second hypothesis stated, “High levels of school engagement across the three dimensions would mediate the link between the maltreatment and foster care placement, and the poor psychosocial outcomes in late elementary school” (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013. p. 2214).

Both hypotheses in the second article were in agreement with the underlying research problem. The research topic in the second article was interested in ascertaining the hypothesized feasibility of adjusting the levels of early school engagement in mitigating poor psychosocial outcomes among the maltreated children in foster care (Fisher, Kim, Pears & Yoerger, 2013). In particular, the first hypothesis were focused towards understanding the effects of the different levels of school engagement among the maltreated children, while the second hypothesis strived to understand the projected impacts of changing the levels of engagement on the later lives of the maltreated children.

Contributions to the Existing Knowledge Base

Both articles contributed to the deeper understanding of the intervention measures available for maltreated children in foster care. Currently, the field of foster care hosts a myriad of intervention approaches in treating the negative psychosocial outcomes of the children in foster care. However, most of the intervention methods in current use are poorly understood; hence, the need to examine further the effectiveness of such methods as levels of school engagement and the arts-based group therapy method.

Despite using different methodological approaches, the two articles contributed to the empirical knowledge of the available intervention methods for maltreated or traumatized children in foster care. The first article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) contributed to the knowledge on the effectiveness of arts-based methods in helping traumatized children in foster care. On the other hand, the second article by Fisher, Kim, Pears and Yoerger (2013) contributed to the knowledge on the potential use of academic, affective and behavioral adjustment as an intervention method for maltreated children in foster care.

Summary and Conclusion

In summary, it emerged that the children in foster care faced multiple challenges including maltreatment and trauma that manifested as poor psychosocial outcomes. Thus, there was an urgent need to ascertain the effectiveness of intervention methods to help relieve the poor psychosocial outcomes of trauma and maltreatment among the thousands of children in the foster care system. In this regard, the first article by Cadell, Coholic, and Lougheed (2009) inquired the effectiveness of the arts-based therapy methods as an intervention measure for traumatized children while. On the other hand, the second article by Fisher, Kim, Pears and Yoerger (2013) probed the potential use of adjusting the levels of school engagements to enhance the psychosocial outcomes of maltreated children. Overall, the research questions or hypotheses utilized in each article were suitable in facilitating the objectives of the research.

In conclusion, it is apparent that empirical studies play a crucial role in contributing to the existing knowledge in the field of foster care. The use of the qualitative and quantitative methodology in research exercises facilitate the obtaining of sound findings that can be applied successfully in practical contexts. Therefore, the field of psychology and in particular the area of foster care will continue to benefit from the research methods that utilize primary data collection; particularly the qualitative and the quantitative methods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Cadell, S., Coholic, S & Lougheed, S. (2009). Exploring the helpfulness of arts-based methods with children living in foster care, Traumatology Journal, 15(3), 64-71
  2. Fisher, P., Kim, H., Pears, K & Yoerger, K. (2013). Early school engagement and late elementary outcomes for maltreated children in foster care, Developmental Psychology, 49(12), 2201-2211
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