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Screening for Social and Emotional Delays in Young Children Who Live in Poverty: A Brazilian Example

Emotional and social competence are notable predictors of future mental health outcomes. Studies have shown that poverty can negatively affect a child’s development in several ways. In the Brazilian educational system, no direct payment is required to enroll children in public daycare centers. However, many daycare centers are in impoverished urban areas where the rates of violation of children’s rights are still high. This situation is concerning because of the possible impact on children’s development. The aim of this work was to investigate latent growth in 6,530 three- to four-year-old children who were enrolled in public daycare centers in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2011 and 2012. We used a modified version of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social and Emotional (ASQ:SE), in which 21 items across the questionnaires were retained. Latent Growth Modeling was performed by constraining intercepts of the repeated measures to zero, and the slope’s loadings corresponded to the study’s time scale (in our case, 0 for age 3 and 1 for age 4). The intercept and slope results were significant (p<0.001) and positive, indicating variability in the individuals’ starting points. Consistent with these results, the scores increased as the children got older. Our findings suggest that children who are enrolled in Brazilian public daycare centers are achieving the expected emotional or social milestones that are appropriate for their age.


Luis Anunciação*, Chen Chieh-Yu, Jane Squires and Landeira-Fernandez J

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