Parental Involvement in Residential Care: Distance, Frequency of Contact, and Youth Outcomes

Jonathan C. Huefner, Robert M. Pick, Gail L. Smith, Amy L. Stevens, W. Alex Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The relationship between physical distance to program, different types of family contact, and youth behavioral outcomes, discharge assessment, and 6-month follow-up was examined. Data came from clinical record information for 350 youth who had been admitted to a group home program between July 2009 and October 2011. Path analysis was used to examine the hypothesized pattern of interrelationships among the variables. Study results found that home visits of youth with their families were related to better outcomes, while program visits by family were unrelated to outcomes. Phone contacts during the week were also unrelated to youth outcomes, whereas weekend phone contacts were significantly related to less successful outcomes. Findings suggest that family contact is important for the health and wellbeing of youth in residential care, but that not all family/friend contacts are equally beneficial and that some can even undermine a youth’s progress. Specific recommendations are made for future research to inform practice on how to make the most of these opportunities. Ultimately, all family and friend contact should be a positive factor in the youth’s treatment and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1489
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Family engagement
  • Home visits
  • Outcomes
  • Residential care
  • Telephone contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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