Jul 01, 2009


This after-school
program is designed to provide children who have a sibling with a
disability with a rewarding and supportive environment where they can have
positive interactions with peers and adults in the community. To create
this environment, the program provides group discussions about the
childrens’ concerns, homework assistance, and recreational activities. The
group discussions are designed to help children understand and alleviate
the stress caused by having a sibling with a developmental disability. An
evaluation of the program found that children in the program had
significantly improved socioemotional functioning (ability to show
affection, respect, or social acceptance of another person), reduced
stress levels and self-esteem anxiety, and increased social support.
While the children in the control group did not show considerable
improvements, the quality of the sibling relationship was not affected.


Target population: Siblings of
children with developmental disabilities from economically disadvantaged

The program is designed to provide children with a
rewarding and supportive environment where they can have positive
interactions with peers and adults. This positive environment is intended
to help children reduce stress and to “do and feel better”. In addition,
the program seeks to lessen the impact of multiple stressors experienced
by children who have a sibling with developmental disabilities.

The program is a 15-week program that offers three
components: group discussions about developmental disabilities,
recreational activities, and homework assistance. The program meets every
weekday for an hour and a half and is led by team leaders and volunteers.
At the beginning of each session, the children engaged in a group
discussion where children had the opportunity to discuss concerns and also
discuss a pre-selected topic. They children were also provided tutoring
for their homework and participated in structured and unstructured
recreational activities.


Evaluated population: Participants
in this study consisted of 180 African American children from a low income
East Coast inner city.

Approach: The participants ranged in
age from 9 to 12 with an average age of 11.3. The children all had at
least one sibling with developmental disabilities. The participants in the
overall sample were 60 percent female.

Six team leaders and seven volunteers staffed the
program, and each team leader was responsible for a group of 15 children.
The children were randomly assigned to either a program or a control
group. The participants in the program group received the after-school
program while the participants in the control group were placed on a
waiting list. Both groups were given a pre-test before the start of the
program. One-week before the end of the program the intervention group
was given a post-test, and one-week later the control group was given the

A variety of measures were collected from the
children using several surveys. To measure depression, anxiety and
self-esteem of program participants, the researchers used the Children’s
Depression Inventory, the Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale-Revised, and
the Self-Esteem Questionnaire. To measure child perceived social support,
the Perceived Social Support Scale-Revised was used. The researchers
measured stress using the Daily Hassles Questionnaire. Family functioning
was measured using the Family Environment Scale, and sibling relationships
were measured using the Sibling Relationships Questionnaire.

Results: Results of the study indicate that
overall, children in the after-school program group had improved
socioemotional functioning, reported less stress, and more social support
while there were no changes for children in the control group (F’s ranging
from 4.23 to 5.47). The researchers compared scores on the questionnaires
and determined that there were no significant differences between the two
groups at pre-test. At post-test, the researchers found that children in
the program group reported reduced depression (F=4.33), anxiety (F=4.31)
and increased levels of self-esteem (F’s between 4.31 and 5.47), whereas
their control counterparts did not experience any significant change. In
addition, program participants had significantly less sibling-related
stress (F=4.77), however, they did not have any significant differences on
the parent-related or home-life subscales of the Daily Hassles
Questionnaire. Program participants also reported significantly higher
levels of social support (F’s between 4.23 and 4.33). Finally,
researchers found no differences on measures of family functioning or
sibling relationships.

The researchers state that because all three
components of the program were administered to all the children in the
intervention groups, it is difficult to isolate the effect of any program



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.

KEYWORDS: Middle Childhood (6-11), Adolescence
(12-17), Children, Social/Emotional Health, Mental Health, Anxiety,
Therapy/Counseling, Tutoring, Clinic/Provider-based, Self Esteem, Stress,
Urban, African American or Black.

Program information last updated 07/1/09.

Subscribe to Child Trends

Short weekly updates of recent research on children and youth.