Social support networks of African-American children attending head start: A longitudinal investigation of structural and supportive network characteristics

Kelly K Freeman Bost, Brian E. Vaughn, Ada L. Boston, Kerry L. Kazura, Colleen O'Neal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examined the stability and coherence of African-American children's social support networks. Participants included a total of 106 3- to 4-year-old children attending Head Start centers located in the southeast. Children completed a social network interview in two consecutive years at the Head Start centers. These interviews tapped multiple dimensions of the support network including social embeddedness, proportion of the network providing support, and perceived support. Analyses focused on both the rank-order stability of children with respect to network characteristics as well as stability of network relationships (the same individuals included in the network at both time periods). Results indicated age-related increases in network size for adult and child categories, network size across three support domains, proportion of support scores, and perceived support from adults. In addition to age-related changes, analyses revealed considerable rank-order stability with respect to structural network dimensions, but very little rank-order stability in proportion of support and perceived support scores. In contrast, both structural and supportive components of the children's networks were shown to be coherent over a one-year period when specific network member relationships were examined. Discussion highlights both continuities and discontinuities in young children's social networks, and how data obtained in this study contribute to theory building and the systematic examination of African-American children's emerging social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-412
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Development
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 2004

Keywords

  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Preschool children
  • Social support networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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