A Caregiver-Child Social/Emotional and Relationship Rating Scale (CCSERRS)

Article Title: A Caregiver-Child Social/Emotional and Relationship Rating Scale (CCSERRS)

Authors: Robert B. McCall, Christina J. Groark, and Larry Fish


This paper reports the construction and pilot reliability, validity, and psychometric properties of a new caregiver-child rating scale that emphasizes caregiver-child social-emotional interactions and relationships. While the scale was developed and studied in the context of orphanages for young children, it potentially could be used in non-residential early care and education settings as well as for parent-child interactions in the home. The intent was to assess a few dimensions that comprehensively cover the range of caregiver-child social-emotional interactions and relationships but could be administered in a relatively short period of time in a variety of situations and would not require extensive coder training, manuals, or materials. Results showed that the scale can be reliably administered even using observation periods as short as five minutes, reliability was replicated over seven different coders working in three different orphanages, and ratings of caregivers were similar across different types of caregiving activities (i.e., feeding, dressing/bathing, free play) and for caregivers attending to children birth to 4 and 4 to 8 yrs. of age. In the orphanage context, factor analyses showed the scale primarily reflects caregiver-child mutual engagement and relationship with subordinate components of caregiver punitiveness and caregiver- vs. child-directed behaviors and intrusiveness.

Early social/emotional relationship experiences, especially warm, caring, sensitive, and responsive interactions between adults and their infants and young children, are crucial contributors to promoting attachment (e.g., DeWolff & van IJzendoorn, 1997van IJzendoorn & Sagi, 1999), which in turn is associated with longer-term positive child outcomes in social and mental development (e.g.,Aviezer, Sagi, Resnick, & Gini, 2002Landry, Smith, & Swank, 2006;Landry, Smith, Miller-Loncar, & Swank, 1997Landry, Smith, Swank, & Miller-Loncar, 2000Steelman, Assel, Swank, Smith, & Landry, 2002). Social/emotional relationship experiences have also been associated with the quality of early care and education environments, early childhood developmental gains, and longer-term educational success (e.g., Edwards & Raikes, 2002Kontos, Howes, Shinn, & Galinsky, 1995).

Conversely, insecure attachment, especially disorganized attachment, is related to increased later problem behaviors, including externalizing behaviors in males and other social, behavior control, crime, and mental health problems, more so in high-risk children and those who continue to experience insensitive parenting and/or child care (e.g., Carlson, 1998Fonagy et al., 1997;Greenberg, 1999Lyons-Ruth, Alpern, & Repacholi, 1993Rothbaum & Weisz, 1994Shaw, Owens, Vondra, Keenan, & Winslow, 1997).

More specifically, institutional rearing environments for young children tend to provide quite minimal social/emotional relationship experiences (e.g., St. Petersburg-USA Orphanage Research Team, 20052008Rosas & McCall, 2008), and perhaps as a partial consequence of this deprivation such children tend to be substantially underdeveloped and have higher rates of behavioral problems even after being adopted into advantaged families (Blizzard, 1990Gunnar, 2001Johnson, 2000MacLean, 2003St. Petersburg-USA Orphanage Research Team, 20052008). Further, interventions that emphasize improved early social/emotional relationship experiences in orphanages (St. Petersburg-USA Orphanage Research Team, 2008Zeanah, Smyke, & Koga, 2003), provide high-quality foster care instead of institutionalization (Nelson, Zeanah, Fox, Marshall, Smyke, & Guthrie, 2007), or promote responsiveness in parents towards their own infants (Landry et al., 2006) have produced improvements in children’s development in several domains.

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