Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Sar, Bibhuti

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Sterrett-Hong, Emma

Committee Member

Sterrett-Hong, Emma

Committee Member

Archuleta, Adrian

Committee Member

Rote, Sunshine

Committee Member

Flaherty, Christopher

Author's Keywords

child depression; positive parenting; parental depression; family risk; inner-city neighborhoods; longitudinal multilevel analysis


Depression in inner-city children is a serious social problem. Given the existing evidence supporting the links among neighborhood conditions, family functioning, parenting, and child outcome, this study expands the examination of the relationship among contextual factors and child depression from a longitudinal developmental perspective. This study also aims to examine how positive parenting as a protective factor moderates the effect of contextual risk factors on child depression in a sample of low-income, inner-city families. This present study used the secondary data from the Schools and Families Educating (SAFE) Children study (aka SAFE Children Project) with is a longitudinal panel study with randomized controlled trial of a family-based preventive intervention on children from Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods. This project started in 1997 with 424 first-grade students and their primary caregivers receiving the intervention treatment or being assigned to control group. Subsamples for this present study were selected from waves 1 to 9 datasets, including related instruments and demographic information. The selected sample at Wave 1 consisted of 47.6% Mexican American children (n=201), 42.5% African American children (41), and 9.7% other Hispanic or Anglo-White American children (n=41). Out of 49% were male children, while 51% were female children. Two studies were conducted using the SAFE Children project dataset. The first study focused on exploring the effects of major study variables on child depression using wave 1 through wave 5 datasets of the SAFE Children project. The second study focused on exploring the effects on child depression of major study variables using Wave 6 to Wave 9 datasets. This dissertation has employed the multilevel analysis to examine predictors of children’s depression using parental reports. The finding has indicated that the developmental trajectory of child depression is not linear, as evidenced by a significant negative quadratic effect from wave 1 to 5, but the

trajectory decreased from wave 6 to 9. No difference was found between treatment status and child depression in Study one, but in Study two, the booster group showed lower levels of depression than the treatment and control groups. Across the nine waves, increases in parental depression were found to contribute to the development of children’s depression. Higher levels of positive parenting led to lower depressive symptoms in children age 6-8 but seemed to be an emerging trend in association with decreased levels of child depression in children age 9-12. Results of this dissertation study did not confirm that positive parenting buffered the effects on child depression of contextual risk factors, including low family cohesion communication, negative school climate, and negative neighborhood conditions over the years. Lastly, implications for future practice, policy, and research are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons