Latent Models of Family Processes in African American Families: Relationships to Child Competence, Achievement, and Problem Behavior


Please address correspondence concerning this article to Emilie Phillips Smith at her current affiliation: Senior Fellow, Prevention Development and Evaluation Branch, Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop K-60, Atlanta, GA 30341 (


This study explored the assessment of family processes for a sample of African American kindergarten children, parents, and teachers involved in the EARLY ALLIANCE prevention trial. Using modified versions of the Family Assessment Measure, the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales, the Family Beliefs Inventory, and the Deviant Beliefs measure, internal consistency analyses along with exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses provided empirical support for a Cohesion factor (cohesion and communication), a Structure factor (support and organization), a Beliefs factor (on family purpose and child development), and a Deviant Beliefs factor. Regression analyses examined the relationship of these measures of family processes to child social and academic competence, problem behavior, and early reading achievement. Family Structure (support and organization) was consistently related to parent- and teacher-reported competence and behavioral outcomes, providing support for this construct as an important aspect of family process. Family Cohesion and communication, along with Beliefs, were also related to youth competence and behavior. None of the family process variables added a unique contribution to the influence upon achievement for these kindergarten children beyond the role of parental education and income. This work begins to examine specific dimensions of family processes and their relationships to important adaptive and less adaptive child outcomes. Other dimensions may be identified and examined in future research with families of color.