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Exploring the Effects of Food Insecurity on Preschoolers’ Cognitive, School Readiness, and Social-Emotional Outcomes
There is substantial evidence linking household food insecurity (FI) to child cognitive, general school readiness, and social-emotional outcomes both directly (Johnson & Markowitz, 2018a; 2018b) and indirectly through parent depression (Bronte-Tinkew et al., 2007; Zaslow et al., 2009) and qualities of parent-child relationships (i.e., closeness and conflict; Gee & Asim, 2019; Helton et al., 2018; Jackson et al., 2018). However, gaps remain in our understanding of these associations in the context of low-income, kindergarten-bound preschoolers and therefore is the focus of the current study. Two aims were investigated: to elucidate the direct effects of household FI on older preschoolers’ cognitive, school-readiness, and social-emotional outcomes; and to determine if FI is indirectly associated with child outcomes working through parent depression and parent-child closeness and conflict. The study sample included 1,387 preschool children averaging 64.2 (SD = 4.13) months of age enrolled in the 21 sites of the Educare Learning Network from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2018-2019 school year. Seven main findings emerged: (1) preschoolers experiencing FI scored significantly lower on school readiness than their food-secure peers; (2) FI was not directly associated with any child outcome across multivariate analyses; (3) FI was significantly and positively related to parent-child conflict and parent depression in multivariate models (4) parent depression was not significantly associated with child outcomes in multivariate models; (5) parent-child closeness was significantly and positively associated with measures of language and social-emotional development in multivariate models; (6) FI was significantly and positively associated with a Spanish language measure and one social-emotional outcome (behavior concerns) through parent-child conflict; and (7) the interaction of parent-child conflict and parent depression negatively predicted school readiness and social-emotional protective factors scores. The findings from the present study represent a contribution to the field in what is known about downstream effects of FI on child cognitive, school readiness, and social-emotional outcomes.
Individual & family studies|Public health
Byrd, J. Joshua, "Exploring the Effects of Food Insecurity on Preschoolers’ Cognitive, School Readiness, and Social-Emotional Outcomes" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28318503.