Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #199
CE Offered: BACB
Applied Behavior Analysis in Child Welfare
Sunday, May 25, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W185a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: PRA/CSE; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cristina M. Whitehouse (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Cristina M. Whitehouse, Ph.D.
Abstract: Children placed in foster care are among the most vulnerable for social-emotional problems and behavior problems. These children are more likely than their nonfoster peers to experience behavioral and academic problems (Leather, 2002). This can result in higher levels of placement instability (Redding, Fried, & Preston, 2000), school failure (Benedick, Zuravin, & Stallings, 1996), and juvenile delinquency (Pardeck, Murphy, & Fitzwater, 1985). The continued need for applied behavior analysis services within child welfare is evident. This symposium will present some of the latest research in the child welfare system. The first presentation will describe and evaluate a method of matching foster children with foster parents using preference assessment results. The second presentation will describe the development and pilot data for a function based interview tool for decreasing runaway behavior of youth in foster care. The third presentation will evaluate how foster care case workers use the function based interview tool when compared to a control group of behavior analysts. These studies focus on critical areas in child welfare, which include improving foster child placement stability, decreasing running away, and targeting foster care case worker skills.
Keyword(s): child welfare, function-based interventions, preference assessments, runaway
Evaluation of a Method to Match Foster Children and Foster Parents using Preference Assessment Results
CRISTINA M. WHITEHOUSE (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Bennie Colbert (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Although there are a multitude of variables that influence foster child placement decisions (e.g., availability of a bed in a particular foster home, foster home licensing regulations), there is a critical need for identifying foster placements that are more likely to be successful (i.e., homes in which the foster child will likely remain and, thus, avoid a placement change). Additionally, identifying foster placements that are more likely to be successful is a primary aim of foster care agencies. However, to date, no such system to identify placements for foster children has been identified. The purpose of this study is to evaluate a potential method of systematically matching foster children to foster parents using data from preference assessments. This presentation will first review the preference assessment methods and results obtained with foster children. Next, the matching algorithm and procedures for matching will be discussed. Currently, 6 children have been placed in “matched” foster homes. The number of days in placement in matched homes will be compared to the child’s previous placement durations. Collectively, these studies, and the web-based system designed for this study, attempt to advance routine child welfare practice.
Decreasing Runaway Behavior of Youth in Foster Care using a Function Based Approach
KIMBERLY CROSLAND (University of South Florida), Rose Iovannone (University of South Florida), Hewitt B. Clark (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Children in foster care are twice as likely to exhibit runaway behavior as children of the same age in the general population, are at great risk for school failure (Sedlak et al., 2002), and are vulnerable to innumerable influences and potential victimization (Courtney & Dworsky, 2005). During this presentation, findings from both a pilot study and a federal grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences will be presented that focus on ways to assess and intervene with youth in foster care who run away from placements. Focus groups with child welfare personnel, youth, and school personnel were conducted to gather data to assist in modifications to an instrument to assess the functions of runaway behaviors and to determine the current strengths and challenges between both the child welfare system and the educational system in serving these youth. The methods used and preliminary findings from focus groups will be discussed, including reasons why youth run, how child welfare and schools respond to support youth when they return from a run, and how schools and agencies can collaborate more effectively to serve the needs of these youth. Data from individual youth in the pilot study will also be presented.
Can Caseworkers Develop Function-Based Interventions? How Behavior Analysts Can Help!
JESSICA MOORE (University of South Florida), Kimberly Crosland (University of South Florida), Hewitt B. Clark (University of South Florida)
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to compare interview results based on the Functional Assessment Interview for Runaways (FAIR) tool that was developed as part of a grant funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences. This tool is an interview-based assessment that helps determine the reasons (also known as functions) as to why youth run away so that intervention strategies specific to function can be developed to decrease the future likelihood of runaway behaviors. Six behavior analysts and six child welfare personnel will view three videos each in which a youth and an interviewer role-play using a scripted scenario that includes details as to why the youth ran away. The interviewer asks the youth questions from the FAIR tool. The functions and interventions they develop will be analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the tool in developing function-based interventions. The participants will also complete a social validity questionnaire including three Likert-scale items and two open-ended questions regarding the ease of use of the tool. If this tool helps to determine interventions that stabilize youth in the foster care system, it could result in increases in safety, well being, school attendance and performance.



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