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Contextual influences on child social and emotional adjustment in Kibera

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Mumbe Kithakye
Abstract:
Scope and Method of Study. This study examines child, family and community variables that are associated with child adjustment in the especially low resource setting of the Kibera slum. Quantitative and qualitative data is gathered through caregiver interviews and teacher reports on surveys regarding child adjustment and the context within which the children live. Findings and Conclusions. Eighty-six children between the ages of 2 and 8 and their primary caregivers participated in the study. Qualitative findings indicate that caregivers are concerned with the same issues as governments and service organizations; poverty, poor health, and delinquency. Caregivers also indicate some advantages associated with the inexpensive nature of goods and the ethnic diversity of the area. Quantitative findings indicate that child variables are associated with child adjustment. Child emotional flexibility is associated with child behavior. Ego resiliency predicted high levels of prosocial behavior and low levels of internalizing behavior. Effortful control predicted high levels of externalizing behavior. Child emotional flexibility should continue to be considered in future research on child adjustment in adverse environments. No significant relationships were found between family and community variables and child adjustment. The paper discusses possible reasons for the findings and presents some recommendations for further research.

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter Page

I. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................1

Statement of Problem ...............................................................................................1 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................3 Introduction to Kibera ..............................................................................................4 Theoretical Foundation ............................................................................................6

II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE..................................................................................11

Child Social and Emotional Adjustment................................................................11 Family Factors and Child Adjustment ...................................................................12 Community Factors and Child Adjustment ...........................................................17 Child-level Factors and Child Adjustment ............................................................20 Study Objectives and Hypotheses ..........................................................................24 Objective #1 .....................................................................................................24 Objective #2 .....................................................................................................25 Objective #3 .....................................................................................................26

III. METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................27

Preliminary Study ..................................................................................................27 Study Participants ..................................................................................................28 Procedure ...............................................................................................................29 Measures ................................................................................................................31 Data Analysis Plan .................................................................................................36 Summary ................................................................................................................37

v Chapter Page

IV. RESULTS ..............................................................................................................39

Life in Kibera .........................................................................................................39 Factors Associated with Child Socio-emotional Functioning ...............................46 Differences Between Well-functioning and Poor-functioning Children ...............51

V. CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................53

Overview of Findings ............................................................................................53 Qualitative Findings ...............................................................................................55 Quantitative Findings .............................................................................................58 Limitations of the Study.........................................................................................60 Strengths of the Study ............................................................................................62 Study Implications .................................................................................................64 Conclusion .............................................................................................................65

REFERENCES ............................................................................................................67

APPENDICES .............................................................................................................80

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

Measures and methods used for data collection .......................................................32 Socioeconomic status assessed by perceived standard of living ..............................44 Responses to items regarding social capital ..............................................................44 Type of family structures represented in study sample ............................................45 Nutritional status of children according to Z-scores for each anthropometric measure .....................................................................................................................47 Correlations between child behavior, child, family and community level variables ....................................................................................................................48 Regression analyses predicting child behavior from child-level variables ...............51

vii

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

Map of Nairobi with Kibera highlighted ....................................................................4 Women waiting to buy water ......................................................................................5 Children playing in sewage in Kibera .........................................................................6 Conceptual model of variables expected to influence child functioning ....................9 Outside the nursery school ........................................................................................28 Children inside the classroom at the nursery school .................................................29 The chapel was the only room with a door, all interviews took place there .............30 Path model identifying expected relationships between child, family, community variables and child adjustment ..................................................................................38 Rooftop view of the crowded slum ...........................................................................40

1 CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

There are more than 2.2 billion children below the age of 18 in the world and an estimated 1 billion of this group lives in poverty (United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2005). In Sub-Saharan Africa where more than half of people live below the international poverty line of ~$1 a day, millions of children live in poverty (World Bank, 2009). To further exacerbate the plight of children living in poverty, the region presents some of the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS infected adults. The large numbers of infected adults has led to large numbers of HIV/AIDS orphans. An estimated 12 million children below age 17 have lost one or both parents to AIDS in the region (UNICEF, 2006). Statement of the Problem In the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic there has been a growing concern for children affected by the spreading disease and living under conditions of severe deprivation. As governments, international organizations and community-based groups strive to meet the needs of children; gaps in knowledge are becoming increasingly evident. The gaps in knowledge affect the ability of service providers to develop and evaluate interventions that adequately address the needs of children living in poverty and impacts of parental HIV/AIDS infection/death on child adjustment in extremely low

2 affected by HIV/AIDS (Centre Population et Developpement (CEPED), 2006; Madhavan, 2004; UNICEF, 2006). The gaps concern: (1) the actual resource settings; and (2) the roles the family and the community play in reducing the expected negative impacts on child functioning. Initial agency/government responses have relied primarily on meeting physical needs (e.g., food and shelter) of children living in high poverty areas. Now, concerns are growing about the social and psychological needs these children may present. However, there is no consensus on how psychological and social needs can be met or how to assess whether children are receiving psychological or social support. What is evident is that children affected by parental HIV/AIDS and residing in areas of extreme poverty are at high risk for poor physical and social outcomes (CEPED, 2006; Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2008; UNICEF, 2006). However, not all children living in extreme poverty and exposed to HIV/AIDS show poor outcomes. This variability in outcomes suggests that children in these settings may be able to function well, despite the adverse environment. In an effort to promote healthy social and emotional functioning in these vulnerable children, there is a need to increase understanding about the lives of children in such contexts and the factors associated with their functioning. Reports of changes in household composition and family structure indicate an increase in female-headed and child-headed households due to HIV/AIDS related deaths and poverty. Generally, these family structures are expected to lead to poor child outcomes; however, a systematic examination of the prominent family structures and their relation to child outcomes has not been carried out (Nyambedha, Wandibba, Aagaard-Hansen, 2003; Schafer, 2006). The relationship between the changing family

3 structure and child functioning must be examined further to allow for a better understanding of the role of the family in helping children in low resource settings deal with parental HIV/AIDS and poverty. The traditional kinship based support systems generally recognized as the primary means for dealing with parental death and orphans are expected to weaken as a result of increasing numbers of orphans and poor economic situations. More organizations are emphasizing the community as a means of providing social support for families in need. However, little is known about the relationship between community social support and child functioning (Ansell & Young, 2004; Madhavan, 2004; Nyambedha et al., 2001). A better understanding of the role of the community in providing social support for families would be especially valuable in minimizing the negative impact of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS on children. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to address gaps in knowledge by building a foundation for increased understanding of the ways children and families cope with the negative consequences of poverty and HIV/AIDS. The study did not seek to identify causal relationships between the adverse environments and child adjustment, but rather sought to identify factors associated with positive functioning in such environments so as to contribute to the development of relevant and effective programs to assist children. The project applied a cross-disciplinary approach to address gaps in knowledge by studying individual child, family and community factors and their relation to child functioning. Furthermore, the study utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods to develop a

4 robust understanding of child functioning in contexts of extreme poverty and parental HIV/AIDS. Introduction to Kibera The study took place in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. Like other slums around the world, Kibera is a crowded, informal urban settlement lacking in infrastructure, characterized by inadequate water supply and poor sanitation. Kibera is densely populated, with an estimated 800,000-1,000,000 persons living in twelve villages within its 250 hectares (~1sq mile). Housing options in the area provide minimal security of tenure to tenants and are often temporary shelters with no indoor facilities (United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT), 2003).

Figure 1. Map of Nairobi with Kibera highlighted.

The settlement is located in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya (see Figure 1), approximately 7 kilometers from the city center. Despite the location, Kibera residents KIBERA

5 experience extreme poverty. While actual unemployment numbers are not known, organizations working in Kibera estimate that 40-50% of adults are unemployed (Population Council, 2006). The high levels of unemployment and the lack of job security for those who do have employment, make poverty a primary concern in the area. The majority of those who do have employment, work as casual employees (i.e. day laborers) in the nearby industrial area of the city, approximately 3 kms away from Kibera, or as domestic workers or petty traders. The incomes attained from those types of

Figure 2. Women waiting to buy water. employment are too low to adequately provide for basic needs of a household, even in Kibera. As a result of poverty the nutrition, education and health of children and adults living in the area is affected. A significant number of school- age children are not attending school, in spite of the governments’ provision of free primary school (i.e. grades 1-8) education to all Kenyans. Estimates indicate that anywhere from 30-70% of children are not attending school (Population Council, 2006). The range varies widely as many children attend informal schools sponsored by not-for-profit groups. Poor health is prevalent in Kibera. Communicable diseases are abundant due to the lack of sanitation and poor living conditions. The settlement is also recognized for

6 presenting some of the nation’s highest levels of HIV/AIDS infection. HIV/AIDS is one of the top health concerns in Kibera according to United Nations Human Settlements Program Study (un-published Social- Economic Survey by Research International, 2003).

Figure 3. Children playing in sewage in Kibera. Waterborne diseases and infections place the children of Kibera at great risk of morbidity and mortality. Infections exacerbate the impact of a lack of food due to poverty resulting in high levels of chronic malnutrition. A study of 353 children between the ages of 6 months and 23 months found levels of malnutrition in Kibera to be 15 times higher than the national averages based on the 1999 Kenya demographic and health survey (Kariuki et al., 2002). The hardships of life in Kibera have led to numerous groups and organizations seeking to address the challenges for residents. Despite the interest, minimal research on child socio-emotional functioning occurs in the area. This study had the opportunity to examine child development in Kibera, utilizing a high-risk, understudied population. Theoretical Foundation The study applied theoretical constructs from the disciplines of sociology and child development. The integrated approach allowed for a broad examination of factors associated with child development as well as contributed to the use of integrated theories

7 and methods in research among societies encountering extreme adversity. The risk and resilience approach identified expected relationships between variables, while ecological theory provided a loose framework for organizing variables in relation to possible points for intervention. Resilience is defined as the ability to present positive adaptation when exposed to adverse contexts (Cowan, Cowan, & Shulz, 1996; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990; Rutter, 1987). The study identified positive adaptation as high levels of prosocial behavior and low levels of problem behavior. Variables that increase the likelihood of poor behavioral outcomes are considered risk variables. Variables that buffer negative behavioral outcomes or promote positive outcomes are considered protective variables as they represent evidence of resilience. In agreement with Bronfenbrenners’ ecological theory of human development, the study supports the idea that children were influenced by the systems within which a child lives, for example family or school. Other systems beyond the child’s immediate context, for example the community, government or culture, were also expected to influence the child. In addition, the child was expected to contribute to his/her own development by influencing systems and/or through person characteristics of the child (Bronfenbrenner, 2001). Only variables relevant to addressing the gaps in knowledge were included in the study. Parental HIV/AIDS and poverty, and family structure were identified as key components of the family system. Social support, as assessed by social capital, was identified as the key component of the community system relevant to the study. The child’s ability to adapt emotions appropriately across settings (emotional flexibility) and child nutrition were identified as key child level characteristics. Figure 4 presents all relevant variables within the cultural context of Kibera.

8 Researchers have identified cultural context as important when examining child development (Bukowski, Sippola, 1998; Garcia Coll & Magnuson, 1999). The cultural context influences the acceptable societal norms as well as the environment the child resides in. Culture often supports and encourages certain lifestyles above others. There can even be variability in expectations of children in different cultural contexts, as adults promote some behaviors and habits in one culture and different behaviors in others (Butler, Lee, & Gross; Dubrow, 1999; Zhon, Lengua, & Wang, 2009). Dubrow (1999) illustrated the difference in his chapter on child competence and culture. Dubrow noted that child competence was not always defined the same way across cultural contexts. In fact, the features that define competency may vary depending on the context and the resources available to parents. To illustrate differences Dubrow (1999) referred to studies that showed greater parental preference and support for children with temperamental characteristics or behaviors that would ultimately be associated with competence in the future. For example, in one study temperamentally difficult and fussy infants received more support from mothers among an ethnic group in Kenya that experiences chronic food shortages. No other differences were found between infants who received support and those who did not receive support from mothers. The more difficult infants were also more likely to survive, while those without fussy temperaments were less likely to survive. The findings were interpreted as being indicative of a preference for children who are more assertive and hardy, characteristics with possible long term benefits for the type of lifestyle the group leads (Dubrow, 1999). Cultural context is expected to contribute to the types of behaviors considered socially appropriate, and ultimately the type of behavior a child presents. Although this study did not examine the influence of

9 specific cultural context variables on child adjustment, all study findings were interpreted in light of the unique cultural context of Kibera, Kenya. Interviews with caregivers provide qualitative information describing the context of development for children residing in Kibera. Figure 4.Conceptual model of variables expected to influence child functioning.

Despite exposure to adverse family or environment conditions, (e.g., maternal depression or psychopathology and low socioeconomic status) some children do show positive functioning or adaptation. The study of factors associated with poor outcomes and those that buffer negative outcomes has been used as a means to understand how to promote positive outcomes (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000; Rutter, 1987). Recently Masten (2007) recognized the growing interest in examining resilience across multiple • Social capital, Social support • Parental HIV/AIDS infection • Parental AIDS related death • Family structure • Socioeconomic status

• Nutrition • Emotional flexibility (regulation and adaptation)

COMMUNITY

FAMILY

CHILD

CULTURAL CONTEXT

10 systems. In addition to addressing the gaps in knowledge described previously, this study contributes to the new wave of research on resilience by examining factors associated with child adjustment at the child, family and community level in a high risk context.

11 CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Child Social and Emotional Adjustment Researchers have found a child’s social and emotional adjustment to be influenced by the family and community within which the child lives. Children living in poverty, with chronically ill family members, or in single parent families, are at risk for poor child outcomes, such as poor academic records, increased involvement in delinquent behavior and poor social and emotional development (Luthar, 2006; Hoglund & Leadbeater, 2004). Risk and resilience researchers expect that exposure to multiple risks can lead to worse developmental outcomes (Luthar, 2006; Rutter, 1987). Most children in Sub-Saharan Africa are dealing with multiple sources of adversity, including changes in family structure, poor nutrition, inadequate shelter, lack of education, poverty and a lack of social support (Madhavan, 2004; Suda, 1997). Children living in poverty and affected by HIV/AIDS often leave school so as to assist in the caretaking of their sick parent(s) or to seek a means of supporting the family. In many cases healthcare costs and/or parental loss of income leads to a decrease in household income, resulting in food and resource shortages. Following a parent(s) death, children have to cope with not only the emotional distress of losing a parent to HIV/AIDS, but also major life changes. Children often have to leave their home to take up new residences with relatives or friends, become homeless

12 or fend for themselves in what is commonly known as child-headed households (Madhavan, 2004). Child social and emotional adjustment is rarely examined among children living in extreme poverty or in relation to exposure to parental HIV/AIDS infection or death. Usually a greater emphasis is placed on recording the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on child survival among young children or participation in risky behaviors (e.g., delinquent acts and underage drinking) among adolescents (UNICEF, 2006). Young children who make it past the age of five are dealing with fewer challenges to survival and are not likely to choose to participate in risky behaviors, such as drugs and vandalism. Children of this age tend to show evidence of difficulties coping with adversity through changes in their behavior. A recent review of literature identified factors contributing to poor child developmental outcomes in developing countries emphasizing the importance of positive social and emotional development in relation to academic performance and subsequent social functioning (Walker et al., 2007). Children who met their developmental potential did better in school and were more likely to stay in school, which is expected to lead to greater productivity and success in the future (Walker et al., 2007). This study will examine child behavior at school as a means of ascertaining the relationships between HIV/AIDS, poverty and child social and emotional adjustment among young children. Family Factors and Child Adjustment Researchers have examined the impact of poverty on child development, and there is a general consensus that long-term poverty is detrimental. An environment of extreme poverty is often associated with more violence, less access to employment,

13 services, resources and support (Williams, 1997). Not surprisingly, children exposed to extreme poverty have been found to have lower academic achievement and more conduct problems (Barbarin & Richter, 1999; McLoyd, 1998). In Kibera, the families residing in the settlement are low-income, unemployed or insecurely employed and have minimal access to resources, from water and sanitation to assistance programs. Under these extreme conditions of poverty, everyone is low-income. However, the extent to which one is more disadvantaged than another may vary. An individual who is working may be able to provide food for their family, even if they cannot afford to leave Kibera. The current study considered income relative to others in Kibera as a means of assessing the extent of disadvantage the family was experiencing. Few studies examine the impact of parental HIV/AIDS infection on child social and emotional adjustment. Forehand and colleagues (1998) found that children whose mothers were infected with HIV showed more internalizing problems, externalizing problems and less prosocial behavior in a study of inner city African-American children between the ages of 6 and 11. Upon further examination, the association between HIV infection and adjustment difficulties was found to be mediated by the ratio of adults-to- children in the home (Dorsey, Chance, Forehand, Morse & Morse, 1999). In Africa the social and emotional influences of parental HIV/AIDS infection or death are rarely examined by researchers (Foster & Williamson, 2000). Most research on the influences of HIV/AIDS has focused on the physical impacts of the disease, for example increases in under-five mortality and orphanhood (Preble, 1990). Nonetheless based on research on child social and emotional adjustment in western nations, the impact is expected to be negative. Increases in depression, stress, and trauma are expected to be evident among

14 children with HIV/AIDS affected parents. The changes in caregiver and quality of life as the family adjusts to a chronically ill parent or the death of a parent are expected to result in difficulties with functioning. In addition, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is expected to be associated with social withdrawal (Foster & Williamson, 2000). Despite the expected negative impacts of HIV/AIDS infection or death on child social and emotional adjustment, researchers and aid providers expect family characteristics to reduce vulnerability and bolster resilience. However, more research is necessary to determine the mechanisms driving resilience in families affected by HIV/AIDS especially with the high numbers of HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa (Foster & Williamson, 2000; Pedersen & Revenson, 2005; UNICEF, 2006). Sociologists describe the family as a subsystem of society that is efficient in the socialization of its members, especially children, and reliant on a structure organized by power and roles (Doherty, Boss, LaRossa, Schumm, & Steinmetz, 1993; Litwak, Silverstein, Bengtson & Hirst, 2003). Throughout the years, changes in family structure or makeup have led to numerous studies of possible effects of family change and structure on the well-being of the family and the ability of the family to meet its goals of socialization (Kerr, 2004; Kingsbury & Scanzoni, 1993; Snyder, McLaughlin & Findeis, 2006; Verropoulou & Joshi, 2002). Researchers examining the association between family composition and child outcomes have met with little consensus over the nature of the relationship. While some researchers find evidence that child well-being is negatively affected by certain family structures, others find no association or ascribe the association to other factors (Cain & Combs-Orme, 2005; Kerr, 2004). Barrett and Turner (2005) found that family structure was associated with substance use problems, with single-

15 parent families facing elevated risk of substance use problems. Girls from single parent households are more likely to be pregnant teens (Wilson, 1987). In a longitudinal study of family structural changes and Canadian children, Kerr (2004) found that family structure and poverty both influenced child outcomes. Children that resided in single parent homes or lived with step-parents presented higher levels of anxiety, hyperactivity, and emotional symptoms. In contrast, Verropoulou and Joshi (2002) found associations between family structure and child outcomes no longer existed once human, financial and social capital were accounted for in analyses. The incongruity of findings shed light on the complex nature of families. There is great diversity in the types of family structures that exist around the world, ranging from nuclear families and extended families, to single-parent families (Hennon & Wilson, 2008). To further complicate studies on family makeup the structure of a family can change over time. In sub-Saharan Africa, researchers have documented changes in the prevalent family structure as a result of urbanization, colonial influences, economic hardship and spread of Western culture (Ankrah, 1993; Suda, 1997). The African family structure, especially in urban settings has evolved from a broader extended family composition to a smaller more nuclear structure. The trend toward nuclearization has been seen as a necessary response to the demands of economic hardship especially in urban settings and as it becomes increasingly difficult to financially provide for large families. Although extended family obligations and connections remain intact especially in times of crisis, families more frequently consist of fewer related individuals residing together in addition to a man, a woman and children (Ankrah, 1993; Jones, 2005; Madhavan, 2004). As a result of large numbers of adults dying prematurely due to HIV/AIDS, family structure is

16 changing again. The spouse and children of a HIV/AIDS infected adult may move in with relatives or become dependents of relatives who are already struggling financially. Researchers note an increased reliance on the extended family to cope with parental deaths, leading to concerns about the current family structures’ abilities to function considering that the economic situation is not improving despite the increasing demands (Ankrah, 1993; Ansell & Young, 2004; UNICEF, 2006). Furthermore, families composed of female headed households or child headed households are not expected to be able to handle the current economic demands adequately as they are likely to have less income and fewer skills for generating income. Some researchers believe that the family is capable of adaptation and will adjust and cope with the economic and structural demands of changes resulting from HIV/AIDS (Ankrah, 1993) while others are wary of current family structures and their abilities to cope (Madhavan, 2004; Nyambedha et al., 2003). In Kenya, 58% of families are compiled of a monogamous couple and their children, 26% are made up of one parent and their children, 16% are composed of a polygynous couple and children. In addition other relatives or nonrelatives may reside within the same home (Ngige, Ondigi & Wilson, 2008). The HIV/AIDS epidemic and high levels of poverty have led to more female-headed households and orphans in the nation. While there have been changes in what a family looks like, families are still recognized as primary sources of socialization in Kenya and other African nations (Ngige et al., 2008; Njue, Rombo & Ngige, 2007). More research is needed to understand the relationship between family structure and child functioning in Kenya and other African nations currently experiencing changes in family composition.

17 One goal of this study is to describe the various family structures present in a low- income, urban population in sub-Saharan Africa known for high rates of HIV infection. An examination of the associations between the different family structures and child functioning will contribute to research of family structures and their impact on children. It is expected that there will be an interaction between family structure and parental HIV/AIDS infection/death, because some family structures (e.g., smaller families or child headed families) do not cope as well as others with the economic and social impacts of HIV/AIDS or taking on an orphan. Furthermore, family structure is expected to influence the relationship between parental death or illness and child functioning. Family structure is expected to affect a family’s ability to interact with society and identify with a community that will provide support and access to resources. Community Factors and Child Adjustment Families are nested within communities. Families that are well connected within the community are more likely to function well due to access to social support, information and resources at the community level. There is a burgeoning interest in developing interventions that strengthen the community and the community’s ability to respond to HIV/AIDS and poverty. For researchers concerned that traditional kinship support structures are weakening, the community provides a potential source of social support for families that are dealing with HIV/AIDS and poverty (Madhavan, 2004; Nyambedha et al., 2003). The sociological concept of social capital provides insight into the value of social support at the community level. The concept of social capital appeals to policy makers and service providers due to evidence that increased social capital is related to higher

18 levels of well-being especially among low-income communities (Farrell, Tayler & Tennent, 2004; Leonard, 2005). Coleman, Putnam and Bourdieu made significant contributions to the conceptualization of the construct of social capital (Leonard, 2005; Stephenson, 2001). Coleman (1988) identified social capital as the positive characteristic of interactions between actors that exists when there is a sense of trust and belonging among actors. Putnam (2000) defined social capital in similar terms emphasizing social trust, coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit to the actors involved. Both Putnam and Coleman suggested that social capital could be developed and transformed into other types of capital. They identified three types of capital possessed by families: financial, human, and social capital. The term financial capital was used to refer to economic status and access to resources. Human capital represented the parents’ educational achievement and the ability to aid children in attaining educational success. Social capital was identified as existing within relationships between adults inside and outside the family and between adults and children (Coleman, 1988; Putnam, 2000). Bourdieu (1986) considered social capital as reliant on the connections and obligations between individuals. Bourdieu suggested that value was dependent on the individual’s ability to transform social capital into another types of capital, for example human or financial capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Leonard, 2005). Social capital can be considered a valuable resource available for families in need, either within family relationships or between the family and the community. Based on Coleman and Putnam’s work, families lacking in social capital can be strengthened and strengthening of social capital is likely to lead to other positive outcomes. Opinions differ as to whether social capital on its own is a valuable resource, or whether value is only

Full document contains 106 pages
Abstract: Scope and Method of Study. This study examines child, family and community variables that are associated with child adjustment in the especially low resource setting of the Kibera slum. Quantitative and qualitative data is gathered through caregiver interviews and teacher reports on surveys regarding child adjustment and the context within which the children live. Findings and Conclusions. Eighty-six children between the ages of 2 and 8 and their primary caregivers participated in the study. Qualitative findings indicate that caregivers are concerned with the same issues as governments and service organizations; poverty, poor health, and delinquency. Caregivers also indicate some advantages associated with the inexpensive nature of goods and the ethnic diversity of the area. Quantitative findings indicate that child variables are associated with child adjustment. Child emotional flexibility is associated with child behavior. Ego resiliency predicted high levels of prosocial behavior and low levels of internalizing behavior. Effortful control predicted high levels of externalizing behavior. Child emotional flexibility should continue to be considered in future research on child adjustment in adverse environments. No significant relationships were found between family and community variables and child adjustment. The paper discusses possible reasons for the findings and presents some recommendations for further research.