Parental availability of support and frequency of contact: The reports of youth in educational residential care

Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Social work policies emphasize the importance of encouraging parent-child contact to enhance the well-being of children in care. However, there is little research on the frequency and quality of contact between adolescents in residential care settings (RCSs) and their mothers and fathers. Research based on the self-reports of youth in RCSs is also limited. This study was based on a random cluster sample of 1409 youth, aged 13 to 20, in Israeli educational RCSs designed for youth from underprivileged backgrounds. It examined the youths' self-reports of the perceived availability of support from their mothers and fathers and their in-person and phone contact with them. A range of correlates and the moderating role of marital status in the link between gender and contact were examined. Adolescents completed a structured questionnaire. Multivariate regression models with a moderation effect between gender and family status were used to test the correlates of contact. Overall, adolescents reported more perceived support and more frequent contact with mothers, though fathers were perceived to be involved fairly highly in their lives. Adolescents from divorced-parent families and those whose parents lived farther away from the RCS reported less frequent and supportive contact. Boys reported more parental support. Parents' education was linked positively with most measures of contact. Overall, immigrant adolescents reported less frequent contact. Among youth from divorced-parent families, boys reported significantly higher levels of support and phone contact with fathers, but among adolescents from intact families, the gender gap was insignificant. Identifying groups of youth at risk for poorer contact with parents has implications for pre-placement decisions and for designing interventions to enhance child-parent contact while in care.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adolescents
  • Child-parent contact
  • Family status
  • Gender
  • Geographic proximity
  • Residential care


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