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Program Description

Overview The Siblings of Children With Developmental Disabilities After School Support Program (SCDDASSP)¹ serves children from an East Coast inner city who have siblings with developmental disabilities, such as mild or moderate mental retardation. The rationale for this after school program came from parents' concerns about their children without developmental disabilities, given the time and energy needed for frequent meetings, appointments, and activities required for their children with the developmental disability. By providing services for the non-developmentally disabled siblings, the program attempts to alleviate families' stress and improve participants' socioemotional adjustment, family functioning, and sibling relationships.

¹ This is a pseudonym for the program designated by HFRP since the actual program name was not specified in the evaluation report for purposes of confidentiality.
Start Date September 1996
Scope local
Type after school
Location urban
Setting recreation center
Participants elementary and middle school students (9–12 year olds)
Number of Sites/Grantees one
Number Served 90
Components This 15-week program includes group discussions about developmental disabilities, recreational activities, and homework assistance. The program meets every weekday from 3pm to 5:30pm at a community center. The children are separated into teams of 15 for the group discussions and the homework assistance, while the whole group participates in the recreational activities together.

Group Discussions – These discussions are held for 15–45 minutes each day and are facilitated by the team leader. Sessions begin by asking each team member if anything “important” or “troubling” occurred that day. Children are encouraged to discuss any concerns including those regarding school, family, and friends. In addition to these unstructured group discussions, one different structured topic (such as What are disabilities? and Why do people stare?) is addressed each week. The topic is introduced on the first day of each week, and a short lesson is presented, followed by a brief group discussion of the topic with team leaders soliciting comments from the team members. On subsequent days, team members are asked specifically about any incidents or problems related to the topic of the week.

Recreational Activities – Children participate in a variety of structured and unstructured recreational activities, including computer games, videos, dance contests, theater arts, sports, gardening, and crafts. These sessions typically last between 40 and 90 minutes.

Homework Assistance – The team leaders and volunteers devote 75 minutes each day to assisting children with their homework. When children come without homework or finish homework before the other team members, they are allowed to read books or magazines available at the center.

Six team leaders and seven volunteers staff the program. The six team leaders all have a minimum of three years' experience working with children with developmental delays and their families. Each team leader is randomly assigned one of the teams of 15 children, while volunteers (community residents, high school students, and community center staff from other programs) interact with all of the children.
Funding Level not available
Funding Sources The community center out of which the program is run receives federal and state money from a variety of sources. The program is part of the overall budget for the center.


Overview The evaluation was designed to measure the effectiveness of the after school program in improving children's socioemotional adjustment, family-related stress, family functioning, and sibling relationships.
Evaluator Ruby Phillips, Lehman College, City University of New York
Evaluations Profiled Intervention With Siblings of Children With Developmental Disabilities From Economically Disadvantaged Families
Evaluations Planned The evaluation is ongoing. It includes new cohorts as well as follow up with previous cohorts.
Report Availability Phillips, R. S. C. (1999). Intervention with siblings of children with developmental disabilities from economically disadvantaged families. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 80(6), 569–577.


Evaluation Dr. Ruby S. C. Phillips
Assistant Professor
Lehman College
City University of New York
250 Bedford Park Blvd West
Bronx, NY 10468
Tel: 718-960-8781
Program Dr. Ruby S. C. Phillips
Assistant Professor
Lehman College
City University of New York
250 Bedford Park Blvd West
Bronx, NY 10468
Tel: 718-960-8781
Profile Updated May 13, 2004

Evaluation: Intervention With Siblings of Children With Developmental Disabilities From Economically Disadvantaged Families

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To examine the effectiveness of the SCDDASSP in improving participants' socioemotional adjustment, family-related stress, family functioning, and sibling relationship quality.
Evaluation Design Experimental: A total of 180 African-American children (mean age = 11.3) were randomly assigned either to the treatment group (receiving the after school program intervention) or a control group (placed on a waiting list to participate in a subsequent after school program). Most children in the study (98.3%) came from low-income families based on parents' self-reported eligibility for Medicaid benefits and public housing subsidies. There were more females (60%) than males (40%). All study participants were recruited by distributing letters and announcements at an after school program for developmentally delayed children held at a community center. Both the treatment and control groups were required to attend an orientation program on the same day, and were administered pretest assessments that day. Posttest assessments were administered to the treatment group one week before the end of the program, and to the control group one week later. There were no pretest differences between the control and treatment groups on any of the measures of socioemotional adjustment, stress, social support, family functioning, sibling relationship quality, or mild/moderate retardation status of siblings with developmental disabilities.
Data Collection Methods Surveys/Questionnaires: All students were administered the pretests and posttests in a survey format, with a number of formal tests/assessments embedded within. (See the test/assessment section below for more details.)

Test/Assessments: Socioemotional functioning was measured using three instruments assessing the children's depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Children's Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1992); anxiety was measured using the Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale—Revised (Reynolds & Richmond, 1985); and self-esteem was measured using the Self-Esteem Questionnaire (DuBois et al., 1996).

Social support was measured using a modified version of the Perceived Social Support Scale—Revised (DuBois et al., 1996; Procidino & Heller, 1983).

Family-related stress was measured using items from the Daily Hassles Questionnaire (Rowlinson & Felner, 1988).

Family functioning was measured using the Family Environment Scale (Moos & Moos, 1986), with scales tapping family cohesion, family conflict, family active recreational orientation, family organization, and family control.

Sibling relationships were measured using the Sibling Relationship Questionnaire (Buhrmester & Furman, 1990; Furman & Buhrmester, 1985).

Buhrmester, D., & Furman, W. (1990). Perceptions of sibling relationships during middle childhood and adolescence. Child Development, 61, 1387–1396.

DuBois, D. L., Felner, R. D., Brand, S., Phillips, R. S. C., & Lease, A. L. (1996). Early adolescent self-esteem: A developmental framework and assessment strategy. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 6, 543–579.

Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1985). Children's perception of the qualities of sibling relationships. Child Development, 56, 448–461.

Kovacs, M. (1992). Manual for the children's depression inventory. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems.

Moos, R. H., & Moos, B. A. (1986). The family environment scale manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.

Procidino, M. E., & Heller, K. (1983). Measures of perceived social support from friends and from family: Three validation studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11, 1–24.

Reynolds, C. R., & Richmond, B. O. (1985). Revised children's manifest anxiety scale (RCMAS). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Rowlinson, R. T., & Felner, R. D. (1988). Major life events, hassles, and adaptation in adolescence: Confounding in the conceptualization and measurement of life stress and adjustment revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 432–444.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected in 1996.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Family No significant treatment effects were found for family functioning, family social support, or the quality of sibling relationships.
Youth Development Results showed that children who participated in the program showed increased socioemotional adjustment compared to children in the control group (the latter group showed no improvements). Specifically, there were significant treatment effects found for the following measures of socioemotional adjustment: depression (p < .05), anxiety (p < .05), self-esteem/peers (p < .05), self-esteem/school (p < .01), self-esteem/family (p < .05), and self-esteem/global (p < .01). No significant treatment effects were found for self-esteem/body image or self-esteem/sports/athletics.

Results revealed a significant treatment effect for decreased sibling-related stress (p < .01), but no effects for parent-related or home-life-related stress.

There were significant treatment effects found for increased peer social support, school social support, and center staff social support (p < .01 for all).

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Published by Harvard Family Research Project