Executive Functioning in Preschool Children in Foster Care or Alternative Living Situations

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.S. in School Psychology


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Susan Davies


Children in foster or kinship care, or children who have been adopted often have experienced more adverse life events than children who have not been separated from their biological parents. Adverse childhood experiences can lead to biological disruptions and neurological deficits, including executive functioning (EF) skills. Educators can play a role in early intervention for EF deficits. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between non-biologically raised and biologically raised preschoolers and their EF abilities, as well as to gain insight on teacher perceptions of EF skills. Following the post-positivist, mixed methods approach, 20 participants ages 3-5 and their eight teachers participated in this study. Teachers completed BRIEF-P forms to examine each child's EF skills and then completed a Google Form questionnaire to evaluate their understanding of EF skills. BRIEF-P scores were reported through a Global Executive Composite (GEC) score for each student. A quantitative analysis indicated no statistically significant difference existed between the two groups. An evaluation of teacher responses to the questionnaire found that while they were able to name facets of EF, teachers did not feel confident in their knowledge of EF interventions or the amount of professional development they received in this area. Teachers felt that a relationship existed between a student's living situation and their classroom performance in relation to EF skills. The results from this study can be used to inform school-based early interventions for preschool children displaying EF deficits.


Educational Psychology, Early Childhood Education, Families and Family Life, Neurosciences, Psychology, Psychological Tests, Social Work, Teacher Education Preschool, executive functioning, parental separation, BRIEF-P, Teacher Perspectives

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