Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Douglas Barnett


For parents, academic achievement is an important part of their child’s development. Generally, parents, teachers and the community are expected to play a supporting role in learning, yet many students struggle in an educational system some believe is in crisis (Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013). Low-income minority youth are particularly at risk for negative outcomes, such as higher absence rates in school and lower achievement scores (Hochschild, 2003; Zhang, 2003), as compared to suburban White middle/upper-income youth. This study aimed to examine the feasibility of implementing the SAFE-Learning intervention, an adaptation of the Family Check Up, with urban public school families and to understand family protective and risk factors. Sixty-four urban public school children between 5-18 years old (M = 12.28, SD = 3.53) and their parents (M age = 43.34, SD = 9.82) consented to participate. Sixty-two children were African American (97%), 26 were boys (41%), and 22 families reported an income <10,000 (34%).

Both the parent and child completed assessment measures examining protective and risk factors in the first session. The second visit included the utilization of motivational interviewing to review scores and set goals with the parent and child. Results across 11 domains revealed families presented with a high average of strengths (M = 7.47, SD = 2.14). Boys were found to feel less self-efficacious in their ability to learn as compared to girls and both parent-teacher involvement and self-regulation for learning were significantly lower for high schoolers. Sixty-three dyads created 3 goals and identified potential barriers. Results provide initial promise for the feasibility of implementing the SAFE-Learning intervention with both the parent and child across various developmental periods with low-income, urban public school families. However, it is important to consider that only a small number of hundreds of urban public school children and their families participated in the study. To better understand how to engage families, future steps may include additional follow-up as well as the incorporation of trusted supports into the recruitment for and implementation of SAFE-Learning. Psychologists, teachers, and school counselors can then team together to highlight parent-child strengths and address potential risk factors in school.