The Role of Family Relationships on Youth Outcomes: An Exploration Across Three Ecological Settings

Kassabian, Sarah, Clinical Psychology - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Lyons, Michael, ED-EDHS Department, University of Virginia

This three-part dissertation explores the role of family in affecting youth outcomes when studied in combination with three ecological systems – youth mentoring (i.e., microsystem), neighborhood climate (i.e., exosystem), and state education guidance (i.e., mesosystem). Manuscript one examines the role of family relationships within the context of school-based mentoring programs, exploring the impact on academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes (i.e., microsystem/microsystem interaction). Manuscript two examines the role of family relationships on adolescent social-emotional outcomes in combination with neighborhood-level factors (i.e., microsystem/exosystem interaction). Manuscript three reviews state education agency (SEA) guidance on family engagement in schools (i.e., mesosystem) to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement to help address the gap between family engagement research, policy, and implementation. The overarching goal across the three manuscripts was to gain a deeper understanding of the relative role of family while embedded within other systems of influence. Because youth development does not occur in a vacuum but rather in context, studying family in combination with the other environments that youth operate provides a more nuanced view of the relative contributions of families. This approach helps to inform specific programming, policy, and research efforts to more effectively work with families. Results highlight the importance of supporting families and recognizing their influence on youth outcomes and contribute to efforts to integrate more contextual research into youth development programming.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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