Silicon Valley Notebook


Juliet Heid


This research used a mixed methods design to evaluate the negative impacts of strains in children’s natal family environment, on their emotional and academic core self-concept, as well as how healthy non-parental relationships can help repair the damaged self-concept. Analyses of National Survey of Children in Non-parental Care (2013) survey data, supplemented with interviews with five experts in the field, revealed the following: strains generated by disruptions in the child’s natal family negatively affected the emotional health of the children in non-parental care and indirectly their academic success; and living in non-parental care homes, particularly having healthy relationships with the caregiver, was positive for both the emotional and academic self-concept of children. Contrary to conventional wisdom, continued involvement of birthparents, after the children were removed from their care, neither benefitted nor harmed the children. These findings were theoretically explained using insights from the Strain (Agnews 1992) and Social Bond perspectives (Hirschi 1969) on the development of core and fluid self-concepts (Blumer 1969; Kuhn 1964), and added to current literature on the needs and well-being of children in non-parental care.