Ph.D. Topic: The Extent to Which Residential Care Practice Promotes Protective Resilience Factors for Young People in Care and as a Coping Mechanism for Those Who Have Left Care.
“For many young people the outcomes of life in the care system may not be positive”. The reasons for their admission into care may not have been resolved and young people may have acquired additional problems as a result of being in care. Consequently, their care experience may not facilitate the development of strengths, resources and coping strategies for life after care.
Gilligan (2001) proposes that understanding why some children may make favourable progress in unfavourable circumstances may tell us more about how to help people exposed to potentially damaging experiences. Stein (2008) writing specifically about resilience as it pertains to young people in care and leaving care suggests five elements which promote resilience in young people including: a stable placement providing good quality care; helping young people develop a positive sense of identity including their self knowledge, self-esteem and self-efficacy; having a positive experience of school; turning points through extra-curricular activities and finally preparation for leaving care.
In order to test whether care practice promotes resilience through the aforementioned factors this study aims to discover answers to the following questions.
The overarching research question that this study will endeavour to answer is:
To what extent does residential care practice promote resilience in young people while in care and transitioning from care to aftercare? To further explore this question the study aims to focus on the aforementioned resilient factors to ascertain the extent to which young people, currently in care, demonstrate resilience and which factors play a part in promoting resilience in their lives.
Finally the study further aims to concentrate on young people who have left the care of this service. The study will therefore examine the young people’s experience, in order to ascertain the extent to which their care experience promoted resilience as a coping strategy in their lives when they left care.
This study will use ethnographic methodologies, with the researcher being based in the residential service over the period of fourteen months. The study will also use in-depth qualitative interviewing with staff, young people currently resident (incorporating an adapted version of Ungar’s Child and Youth Resilience Measure),their families, ex-residents and other key-stakeholders in addition to a comprehensive documentary analysis.