Good enough residential care setting: Child-parent contact and youth adjustment in the context of staff attitudes towards parent involvement

Netanel Shalem, Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of parent-child contact to the well-being of children in residential care is emphasized in child welfare literature. However, despite the central role of youth care workers in the lives of children in residential care settings (RCSs), there is a lack of research on the role of RCS staff in child-parent contact. This study, based on the reports of 240 youth, aged 14 to 18, in therapeutic RCSs for children at risk in Israel, examined the link between frequency of contact and quality of attachment between mothers and adolescents and adolescents’ emotional-behavioral difficulties, and the moderating role of RCS youth care workers’ attitudes towards mother involvement in that link. The findings show a negative relationship between adolescents’ emotional-behavioral difficulties and their perceived quality of attachment to their mother. Frequency of contact was found to be non-significantly linked with adolescent difficulties. The attitudes of RCS staff towards mother involvement moderated the relationship between quality of mother-child contact and adolescents’ adjustment difficulties, so that among youth who reported a more positive attitude of the staff towards mothers’ involvement, the relationship between the quality of child-mother attachment and fewer adjustment difficulties among adolescents was stronger. The study has implications for designing interventions and training RCS staff to enhance child-parent contact while in care.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106687
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the many adolescents, directors, and staff, who generously gave their time to make this study possible. Special thanks are due to the Child and Youth Service in the Israeli Welfare and Social Security Ministry for their collaboration and advice.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Attachment
  • Child-parent contact
  • Parent involvement
  • Residential care
  • Staff attitudes


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