Socio-emotional skills of girls and young mothers in foster care

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© 2019 Socio-emotional skills are fundamental in acquiring a social network and in the transition to adult life. Youth in care are at serious risk of exclusion in their transition to adult life, and young mothers in care must face this difficult step with the added responsibility of motherhood. The aim of this study is to explore whether girls who are in residential care have fewer emotional skills than their peers, and if so, whether these girls have similar socio-emotional skills to girls who also experience disadvantaged environments but live with their families. Moreover, we will also analyse whether they have different skills to girls in care who are also mothers. One group was composed of the 18 teenage mothers in care who lived in the two residential care homes specialized for teen mothers in care in Catalonia (mother group). Another group comprised 18 girls from two residential care homes (girls in care group). Two more groups were included as controls groups: the normative group was made up of 18 girls from a secondary school attended by children from working middle-class families (normative group); the disadvantaged group was composed of 18 girls from disadvantaged families supervised by the Social Services participating in an NGO programme for children in families at risk. To this end, an emotional intelligence test (EQi Bar-on) was administered to 72 girls: 18 girls in care; 18 teenage mothers in care; 18 girls from a normative group (secondary school); and 18 girls from families at social risk. Those participant girls in foster care who were not mothers obtained lower scores than the normative group for the global EQi index, and on the scales of Self-actualization; Empathy; Social Responsibility; Problem Solving; Reality Testing; Impulse control and Happiness. However, the scores obtained by girls in foster care did not differ from those of their peers from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the exception of the Happiness scale, which were worse. The group of young mothers in care scored higher than those girls in care who are not mothers, their scores being similar to those of the normative group from working middle-class families. In the discussion, we analyse the possible factors underlying the observed relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-56
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Adolescent motherhood
  • Foster care
  • Socio-emotional skills
  • Teen motherhood


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