And Still WE Rise: Poverty Risk, Parent-Child Relationships, and Child School Readiness in Urban Black Families

Anderson, Riana, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wilson, Melvin, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Deutsch, Nancy, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The effects of poverty on academic skills, psychosocial functioning, and pro-social behaviors have been thoroughly demonstrated. Given that one in three Black children in America lives in poverty, relative to one in five children nationally, this elevated rate of impoverished Black children is of concern. While areas of the child development literature have shifted from a deficit-based perspective to a focus on successful outcomes in the face of adversity–that is, resilience–very few studies have emerged on academic, psychological, and pro-social success for impoverished Black families. Thus, the current project aims to evaluate financial and general strain for Black families while also assessing whether the parent-child relationship may bolster family functioning and children’s school readiness (i.e., academic, psychosocial, and socioemotional indicators). This study incorporates a mixed-methods design focusing on impoverished families within an urban southern city. Financial stress, general stress, and parent-child relationship variables were quantitatively examined through structural equation modeling to test the associations of the predictive variables with each other and the respective school readiness indicators. Latent class analyses were employed to test whether school readiness was related to varying profiles of families facing problems with financial stress, general stress, and parent-child relationships. Parents’ descriptions of their relationship with their children as described in qualitative interviews were also evaluated and then compared in relation to latent classifications. Findings revealed greater associations between conflict-based parent-child relationship scales and affirmed linear relationships between stress variables and psychosocial and socioemotional readiness. Further, four latent classifications were found with clusters of high, medium, low, and medium/high stress and conflict variables; the low cluster was associated with the most desirable school readiness indicators. Qualitative results indicated that parents believed they had close relationships with their children. Members of the low stress/conflict classification likewise indicated the fewest accounts of conflict of all parents within interviews. The findings of the current study have the potential to improve measurement of parent-child relationships, as well as interventions and therapy services focusing on family functioning through school-related programs, clinical services, and policies regarding prevention and intervention for impoverished urban Black youth and their families.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
poverty, parent-child relations, family, urban, Black youth
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