Adversity and adjustment in children in institutions, family foster care, and adoption.


This study’s objective was to identify the adversity profiles of children in different childcare placements, and to analyze their relationship with subsequent psychological adjustment. We studied a group of 230 children 4 to 10 years old indifferent childcare placements (international adoption, institutional care, non-kin foster care, and kinship care), as well as a control group. Information was collected from parent or caregiver interviews and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The results showed that children in the child welfare system had experienced significant adversity before their current placement, especially among institutional care cases and international adoptees. Meanwhile, children in kinship care had experienced less adversity (p < .001; size effects from d > .50 to d > .80). After a period of time in their respective placements, children’s psychological adjustment was generally positive, but children living in institutional care exhibited the most problems and difficulties, followed by non-kin foster care cases (p < .001; size effects from d > .50 to d > .80). Finally, we found that children’s early adversity levels (p < .05; r = .16), age of current placement (p < .01; r = .23), and duration of current placement (p < .05: r = -.19) were all tied to current psychological adjustment.