Presentation on theme: "& Centre for Research on Educational & Community Services"— Presentation transcript:
1 & Centre for Research on Educational & Community Services A Risk and Resilience Framework for Understanding and Enhancing the Lives of Young People Living in Foster CareBob FlynnSchool of Psychology& Centre for Research on Educational & Community ServicesUniversity of Ottawa
2 Outline What is resilience in children & youth? What protective factors have been found to promote resilience in children & youth?Some findings in our Ontario Looking After Children (OnLAC) projectConclusion: What would a resilience framework for policy and practice look like for young people living in foster care?
4 Brief history & definition of resilience Beginning in 1970s, researchers noted that some children at high risk for problems and psychopathology were developing quite well.“First-generation” resilience researchers: Anthony (1974), Garmezy (1971, 1974), Murphy (1974), Rutter (1979), Werner & Smith (1982).Definition of resilience: “Good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development” (Masten, 2001).For a child to be defined as resilient, 2 key criteria need to be satisfied:Positive adaptation, including development of competenceSignificant risk or adversity
5 Usual criteria for defining positive adaptation in studies of resilience Presence of positive behaviour (e.g., academic achievement, happiness, life satisfaction)More specifically, success in meeting age-related expectations or standards of behaviour known as developmental tasksAbsence of undesirable behaviour (e.g., serious emotional distress, criminal behaviour)
6 Usual criteria for defining good adaptation in studies of resilience (continued) Good external adaptation (e.g., gaining occupational skills)Good internal adaptation (e.g., psychological well-being)Functioning in normal range (“doing OK or better”), rather than excellingMultiple outcome domains (rather than a single domain)
7 Typical measures of good outcome in resilience studies Academic achievement (e.g., grades, test scores, staying in school, graduating from high school)Conduct (rule-abiding vs. anti-social behaviour)Peer acceptance & friendshipNormative mental health (few symptoms of internalizing or externalizing behaviour)Involvement in age-appropriate healthy activities (e.g., extracurricular activities, sports, community service)
8 Defining serious threats to good adaptation Individual risk factors:E.g., premature birth, divorce, maltreatment, motherhood in unwed teenagers, parental psychopathology, poverty, homelessnessCumulative risk indices:Cumulative risk scoresStressful life experience scores
9 What protective factors have been found to promote resilience in children and youth?
10 Protective factors promoting resilience in children & youth (Masten) Within the child:Good cognitive abilities, including problem-solving & attentional skillsEasy temperament, adaptable personalityPositive self-perception & self-efficacyFaith & a sense of meaning in lifePositive outlook on lifeGood self-regulation of emotional arousal & impulsesTalents valued by self & societyGood sense of humourGeneral appeal or attractiveness to others
11 Protective factors promoting resilience in children & youth (cont’d) Within the family:Close relationships with caregiving adultsAuthoritative parenting (i.e., high warmth/responsiveness & monitoring/supervision)Positive family climate, including low discord between parentsOrganized home environmentPostsecondary education of parentsParents with protective qualities listed aboveParents’ involvement in child’s educationSocioeconomic advantages
12 Protective factors promoting resilience in children & youth (cont’d) Within interpersonal environment (within or outside family):Close relationships to competent, prosocial, & supportive adultsConnections to prosocial & rule-abiding peers
13 Protective factors promoting resilience in children & youth Within the community:Effective schoolsTies to prosocial organizations (schools, clubs, church groups, scouting, etc.)Neighbourhoods with high « collective efficacy »High levels of public safetyGood emergency social services (e.g., 911, child protection)Good public health & health-care services
14 Basic human adaptational systems that underlie protective factors and explain why resilience is relatively frequent (Masten, 2001)Resilience is the product of ordinary, basic human adaptive processes & assets, namely:Brain developmentCognitionAttachment relationships & parentingRegulation of emotion & behaviourMotivation for learning & engaging in the environmentFormal educational systems, cultural belief systems, & religious organizations
15 Major lessons from Emmy Werner’s Kauai longitudinal study The great importance of early childhood in laying the foundation for resilience, as well asThe “opening of opportunities” in the 20s and 30s that led to “turning points” and positive shifts in life trajectories:Continuing education at community collegesEducational and vocational skills in armed forcesMarriage to a stable partnerConversion to a religion involving active participation in a “community of faith”Recovery from a life-threatening illness or accidentMost attributed their good outcomes to informal help (from spouses, friends, extended family, teachers, etc.) rather than to formal help (from mental health professionals)
16 Some findings on resilience in our Ontario Looking After Children (OnLAC) project
17 Seven developmental outcome dimensions of Looking After Children HealthEducationIdentityFamily and social relationshipsSelf-presentationEmotional & behavioural developmentSelf-care skills
18 Asset (e.g., + tutoring) Positive outcome (e.g., child’s success Risk Looking After Children’s role in increasing resilience: (1) Providing assets to offset risk factorsAsset(e.g.,tutoring)+Positive outcome(e.g., child’ssuccessin school)Risk(e.g.,severepoverty ofbirth family-
19 child’s good self-esteem) + Mediator (e.g., foster Parenting) - Looking After Children’s role in increasing resilience: (2) Improving mediators, to augment protective effects of assets & lessen negative effects of risksAsset (e.g.,Scouts orGuides)+Positiveoutcome (e.g.,child’s good self-esteem)+Mediator (e.g., fosterParenting)-Risk (e.g.,abusive birth parents)
20 Outcome (e.g., child’s good social interactions) Natural buffer Looking After Children’s role in increasing resilience: (3) Emphasizing natural risk buffers and improving effectiveness of risk-activated buffersOutcome (e.g., child’s good social interactions)Natural buffer(e.g., child’s pleasingpersonality)Risk (e.g.,violencein birth family)Risk-activatedbuffer (e.g.,effective social workintervention)
21 ILLUSTRATIVE RESILIENCE-RELATED OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTHS AGED 10-15
22 Comparisons on key Looking After Children developmental dimensions Comparisons between:Non-random sample of 340 young people aged in care of Ontario CASs, andRandom sample of young people aged from general Canadian population (i.e., from NLSCY)
24 Overnight hospitalization in last 12 months? (ages 10-15)
25 Rating of academic achievement, in reading, math & overall Rating of academic achievement, in reading, math & overall? (ages 10-15) (Thirds are based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms)Note. Top third experience better academic achievement
26 Has child/youth ever repeated a grade at school (including kindergarten)? (ages 10-15)
27 Does child/youth receive special or resource help at school Does child/youth receive special or resource help at school? (ages 10-15)
28 General self-esteem (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note. Top third report higher levels of general self-esteem.
29 Happiness & optimism about future (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note. Top third report higher levels of happiness & optimism.
30 Peer relationships (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third experiences higher levels of positive relationships.
31 Getting along with (foster) mother (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third reports higher levels of getting along with (foster) mother.
32 Level of pro-social behaviour (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third reported higher levels of pro-social behaviour.
33 Level of anxiety/emotional distress (ages 10-15)(thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third reported lower levels of anxiety/emotional distress
34 Level of physical aggression (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: 2nd half reported lower levels of aggressiion.
35 Level of indirect (relational) aggression (ages 10-15) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third reported lower levels of indirect aggression.
36 Level of hyperactivity/inattention (ages 10-15, yr 1) (thirds based on Canadian [NLSCY] norms) Note: Top third reported lower levels of hyperactivity.
37 Conclusion: What would a resilience framework for foster-care policy & practice look like? (Masten & Powell, 2003)Mission: Frame goals in positive termsPromote competenceShift developmental course in more positive directionModels: Include positive predictors and outcomes in models of changeCompetence/health, as well as problemsDevelopmental tasksAssets as well as risk factorsProtective factors as well as vulnerabilities
38 Examples of strategies for promoting resilience in children and youth (Masten & Reed, 2002) Risk-focused strategies: Preventing (or reducing) risk and stressorsPrevent low birth weight through prenatal carePrevent child abuse or neglect through parent educationReduce teenage binge drinking or drug use through prevention science (e.g., Communities That Care)Prevent homelessness through housing policy or emergency assistance
39 Examples of strategies for promoting resilience in children and youth (continued) Asset-focused strategies: Improving number or quality of developmental assets/community resourcesProvide tutors for school workOrganize a Girls or Boys ClubOffer parent education classesBuild a recreation centre
40 Examples of strategies for promoting resilience in children and youth (continued) Process-focused strategies: Mobilizing the power of human adaptational systems: e.g.,Build self-efficacy through graduated success model of teachingTeach effective coping strategies (e.g., pre-surgery)Foster secure attachments through home-visiting programs for new parentsNurture mentoring relationships (e.g., Big Brothers/Big Sisters)Encourage participation of children with prosocial peers in healthy out-of-school-time activitiesSupport cultural traditions that encourage children to bond with prosocial adults (e.g., religious education; classes where elders teach Aboriginal traditions of dance)
41 Some resources on resilience, including applications in child welfare Flynn, R. J., Dudding, P. M., & Barber, J. G. (Eds). (2006). Promoting resilience in child welfare. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.Masten, Ann. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, vol. 56, No. 3, ppMasten, Ann S., & Reed, Marie-Gabrielle J. (2002). Resilience in development. Pp in C. R. Snyder & Shane J. Lopez (Editors), Handbook of positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Masten, Ann S., & Powell, Jennifer L. (2003). A resilience framework for research, policy, and practice. Pp in Suniya S. Luthar (Editor), Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.