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Norwegian Foster Children’s Executive Functioning: Associations with School Performance and Adjustment at 8 Years of Age

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Abstract

Purpose

Foster children may be at risk for challenges in different developmental domains. In this study we investigated 48 Norwegian foster children’s executive functioning, school achievement, and adjustment at age 8 years compared with 37 children in a comparison group, as well as associations between executive functioning and school achievement and adjustment.

Method

Using multiple informants, children’s executive functioning was investigated by using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, and the Child Behavior Checklist was used to investigate school achievement and adjustment.

Results

Significant group differences in executive functioning were identified regardless of informant. Children in the foster group were also rated significantly lower on school achievement and adjustment by their caregivers and teachers. In both groups, associations between executive functioning and school achievement and adjustment were mostly moderate to large.

Discussion

In line with previous research, foster children in the present study showed more problems with EF than non-foster placed children with, for example, impulse control and emotion regulation. Foster children’s struggles with EF, as well as struggles in the school setting is of concern, and early identification of such problems should be prioritized.

Implications

The knowledge from this study can help social workers and other practitioners to tailor their help to foster children in the Norwegian child welfare services.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all the families and services who have taken part in our longitudinal study.

Funding

This project has been financially supported by the Regional Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern and Southern Norway, through funds from the Ministry of Children and Families, the Dam Foundation (Grant number: 210/FOM9392), and the Wøyen Foundation.

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Authors

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Correspondence to Heidi Jacobsen.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants (caregivers and child protection services) included in the study. Informed consent was not obtained from the foster children’s biological parents because a special permission to include foster children in the study was given by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Families. This project was approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics and the Norwegian Centre for Research Data at child age 2 and child age 3, and only by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics at child age 8 (data included in the present paper), due to changes in routines. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Jacobsen, H., Wentzel-Larsen, T. & Drozd, F. Norwegian Foster Children’s Executive Functioning: Associations with School Performance and Adjustment at 8 Years of Age. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 41, 383–394 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-022-00873-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-022-00873-1

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