Validating the factor structure of the drug free schools and communities scale for child welfare involved youth

Jamie Cage, D. Crystal Coles, Hollee A. McGinnis, Susan Yoon, Britney E. Pitts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act scale (DFSCA) has been widely used to measure school engagement in studies utilizing the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) data. Recent analyses using NSCAW-I suggest that the best use of the DFSCA scale is a three-factor structure measuring emotional, behavioral, and cognitive-behavioral engagement. However, this three-factor structure presented concerns with the cognitive-behavioral engagement construct, warranting further analyses. This study aimed to test the three-factor structure in separate samples, and to test an alternative model that excluded the cognitive-behavioral engagement construct. Using NSCAW-II data, we performed a series of confirmatory factor analyses, to explore the fit of the hypothesized and alternative models across three random samples. We extracted three random samples from the NSCAW-II data, without replication. Each sub-sample represented 20 % of the larger NSCAW-II sample. The samples included children between the ages of 6 and 15 who were involved with the child welfare system due to a maltreatment report. Results indicated that both the three-factor structure that includes the cognitive-behavioral engagement construct, and the two-factor structure that excludes the factor fit the data well. Implications for using these factor structures in future research is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Public Child Welfare
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

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  • School engagement
  • child welfare


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