Cognitive Development and Adaptive Skills of Children in Institutions of Russian Federation



In present study we examine cognitive development and adaptive skills of children raised in institutions (called Baby Homes) in Russian Federation. Previously it was shown that children in institutions leg behind their age peers in physical and motor development, show deficits in cognitive and language development. However, during the last few years important changes have been introduced in the institutional care system in Russian Federation and there is a dearth of research on cognitive development of children in Baby Homes after the changes have been implemented. The purpose of the current study was to examine cognitive development and adaptive skills of children residing in modern baby homes. We examined 59 children in the age range from 35 to 59 months: 38 children living in baby homes (M = 45,42, SD = 7.04; 17 girls, 21 boys) and 21 children living in biological families (M = 44,90, SD = 7,76; 13 girls, 8 boys). To evaluate cognitive development of children we used three non-verbal scales of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and the Vineland Behavior Adaptive Scales to obtain information about children’s adaptive skills. Results show that children in baby homes show significantly lower scores on all the scales of cognitive development and adaptive skills in comparison with children in biological families. These results demonstrate the necessity of future changes in the institutional care system in order to improve the environment for children in institutions, nurturing their development.

General Information

Keywords: deprivation, cognitive development, adaptive behavior, institutionalization, young children

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The research was supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities (project №16-36-01103) and the Government of Russian Federation (project №14.Z50.31.0027)

For citation: Kolesnikova M.A., Zhukova M.A., Ovchinnikova I.V. Cognitive Development and Adaptive Skills of Children in Institutions of Russian Federation [Elektronnyi resurs]. Klinicheskaia i spetsial'naia psikhologiia = Clinical Psychology and Special Education, 2018. Vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 53–69. DOI: 10.17759/cpse.2018070204. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Kolesnikova M., Solodunova M., Zhukova M., et al. Osobennosti kognitivnogo razvitiia detei v domah rebenka s razlichnim social’nim okruzheniem [Cognitive development of young children in institutions with different social environment]. Vestnik SPbGU. Psikhologiya i pedagogika [Vestnik SPbSU. Psychology and Education], 2017, vol. 7, no. 4,
    pp. 364–380 (in Russian).
  2. Prikhozhan A.M., Tolstykh N.N. Psikhologiia sirotstva [The psychology of orphanhood]. Saint-Petersburg: Piter, 2005. 400 p. (In Russian).
  3. Bakermans-Kranenburg M.J., van Jzendoorn M.H., Juffer F. Earlier is better: A meta-analysis of 70 years of intervention improving cognitive development in institutionalized children. Monographs of the Society for Research of Child Development, 2008, vol. 73, pp. 279–293.
  4. Berument S.K., Sonmez D., Eyupoglu H. Supporting language and cognitive development of infants and young children living in children's homes in Turkey. Child, 2012, no. 38, pp. 743–752.
  5. Bornstein M.H, Hahn C.S., Bell C., et al. Stability in cognition across early childhood: A developmental cascade. Psychological Science, 2006, no. 17, pp. 151–158.
  6. Bornstein M.H., Hahn C.S., Wolke D. Systems and cascades in cognitive development and academic achievement. Child Development, 2013, vol. 84, pp. 154–162.
  7. Fox N.A., Almas A.N., Degnan K.A., et al. The effects of severe psychosocial deprivation and foster care intervention on cognitive development at 8 years of age: findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2011, vol. 52, pp. 919–928.
  8. Johnson D.E., Guthrie D., Smyke A.T., et al. Growth and associations between auxology, caregiving environment, and cognition in socially deprived romanian children randomized to foster vs ongoing institutional care. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2010, no. 164, pp. 507–516.
  9. Lloyd E., Barth R.P. Developmental outcomes after five years for foster children returned home, remaining in care, or adopted. Children and Youth Services Review, 2011, vol. 33, no. 8, pp. 1383–1391.
  10.  McCall R., Groak C., Fish L., et al. A socioemotional intervention in a Latin American orphanage. Infant Mental Health Journal, 2010, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 521–542.
  11.  McCall R. The development and care of institutionally-reared children. Child Development Perspectives, 2012, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 174–180.
  12.  Muhamedrahimov R.J., Grigorenko E.L. Seeing the trees within the forest: Addressing the needs of children without parental care in the Russian Federation. In
    E.L. Grigorenko (Ed.) The global context for new directions for child and adolescent development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2015, vol. 147,
    pp. 101–108.
  13.  Muhamedrahimov R.J., Nikiforova N.V., Palmov O.I., et al. Characteristics of children, caregivers, and orphanages for young children in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 2005, no. 5, pp. 477–506.
  14.  Muhamedrahimov R.J., Palmov O.I., Nikiforova N.V., et al. Institution based early intervention program. Infant Mental Health Journal, 2004, no. 25, pp. 488–501.
  15.  Mullen E.M. Mullen scales of early learning. San Antonio, TX: Pearson, 1995. 85 p.
  16.  Nelson C.A., Zeanah C.H., Fox N.A., et al. Cognitive recovery in socially deprived young children: The Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Science, 2007, no. 318,
    pp. 1937–1940.
  17.  Pears K., Fisher P.A. Developmental, cognitive, and neuropsychological functioning in preschool-aged foster children: associations with prior maltreatment and placement history. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 2005, vol. 26, no. 2,
    pp. 112–122.
  18.  Pears K.C., Heywood C.V., Kim H.K., et al. Prereading deficits in children in foster care. School Psychology Review, 2011, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 140–148.
  19.  Pomerleau A., Malcuit G., Chicoine J., et al. Health status, cognitive and motor development of young children adopted from China, East Asia, and Russia across the first 6 months after adoption. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 2005, no. 29,
    pp. 445–457.
  20.  Rakhlin N., Hein S., Doyle N., et al. Sources of Heterogeneity in Developmental Outcomes of Children with Past and Current Experiences of Institutionalization in Russia: A Four-Group Comparison. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2017, vol. 87, no. 3,
    pp. 242–255.
  21. Rakhlin, N., Kornilov, S.A., Palejev, D., et al. The language phenotype of a small geographically isolated Russian-speaking population: Implications for genetic and clinical studies of developmental language disorder. Applied Psycholinguistics, 2013, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 971–1003.
  22.  Rutter M. Children in substitute care: some conceptual considerations and research implications. Children and Youth Services Review, 2000, no. 22, pp. 685–703.
  23.  Sparrow S.S., Cicchetti D.V., Balla D.A. Vineland-II Adaptive behavior scales: Survey Forms Manual. Circle Pines, MN: AGS Publishing, 2005. 330 p.
  24.  St. Petersburg – USA Orphanage Research Team. The Effects of Early Social-Emotional and Relationship Experience on the development of Young Orphanage Children // Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. USA, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 297 p.
  25.  UNICEF/CEECIS. Regional analysis report. Regional office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS), 2013. P. 1–36 URL: (accessed 15.12.2017).
  26.  Van Ijzendoorn M.H., Juffer F., Poelhuis C.W. Adoption and cognitive development: a meta-analytic comparison of adopted and nonadopted children's IQ and school performance. Psychological Bulletin, 2005, no. 131, pp. 301–316.
  27.  Van Ijzendoorn M.H., Luijk M.P., Juffer F. IQ of children growing up in children's homes: A meta-analysis on IQ delays in orphanage. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 2008, no. 54, pp. 341–366.

Information About the Authors

Margarita A. Kolesnikova, Engineer-Researcher, Laboratory of Translational Sciences of Human Development, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Marina A. Zhukova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher, Center for Cognitive Sciences, Sirius University of Science and Technology, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Irina V. Ovchinnikova, Junior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Translational Sciences of Human Development, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 1935
Previous month: 7
Current month: 4


Total: 871
Previous month: 1
Current month: 0