The Environmental Screening Questionnaire: Validity and Utility Study
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Accumulative family risk factors can have a detrimental impact on young children's social emotional development and future school readiness. Identifying family risk and resilience factors can be a first step in linking families to needed services. Programs that serve families and children need a brief and valid screening tool that can quickly assess family strengths and needs. This study examined the validity and utility of the Environmental Screening Questionnaire (ESQ), a brief caregiver report of the family's situation. Participants included 324 parent/child (ages 3-60 months) dyads from a sample of programs that serve at-risk families (n = 72) and an online sample of caregivers (n = 252). Results from data analyses evaluating the validity and utility were promising. Validity was investigated by examining convergent validity using the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form. Caregivers from the online sample who had more family risk factors, as identified in the ESQ, were more likely to have elevated levels of stress (r = .23). Moreover, children from families with increased risk factors tended to have higher scores on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ:SE) for two age intervals, 6 and 48 months, for the online sample. Utility data were gathered from caregivers and program staff. Results suggest the ESQ is an effective and useful screening measure that can help professionals identify areas of resource need, organize referral information, and monitor family outcomes. Caregivers found the ESQ to be helpful in understanding personal areas of risk and how risk and resilience factors can affect children's social emotional development. This study assisted in developing preliminary "red flag" risk factors that may be useful to programs serving families and children. Testing of the "red flags" is discussed for future research.