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LEAVING HOME, LEAVING CARE: Contributions to practice with youth leaving care This research was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities.

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Presentation on theme: "LEAVING HOME, LEAVING CARE: Contributions to practice with youth leaving care This research was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities."— Presentation transcript:

1 LEAVING HOME, LEAVING CARE: Contributions to practice with youth leaving care This research was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Varda Mann-Feder, Professor Concordia University, Montreal

2 Where I started Consultant at a large Anglophone agency Resource person for independent living services Worked hard to create relevant programs but youth were not engaging, significant proportion of youth were running away We could not predict who would succeed Program of qualitative research that began in 1995

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4 What I have learned Our programs of preparation are misguided Our expectations are unrealistic: moving out is a crisis for all young people Launching demands a permissive approach where youth can experiment and express difficult feelings Peers have a critical role in the transition to living on one’s own and can compensate for a lack of parental support

5 Major findings Most efforts in Child Welfare are directed at returning youth home. Independent living is an afterthought Staff and youth have little say about timing, resources Youth express a need for relationships, not programs Youth stress the need for self reliance and do not anticipate age related pleasures, especially in relation to peers Youth express anger at staff while denying and trivializing issues with family Youth express different feelings as they move through the process: anxiety…anger…disappointment. Greatest crisis is during the transition, not after they leave

6 Why I turned to thinking about home leaving -our programs are expensive but have no theoretical or empirical basis -launching young people into adulthood is a normative transition -while the lack of family support is something we can never compensate for, there may be other protective mechanisms or turning points that operate in this transition

7 Newest findings: Methodology Interviews with volunteers Normative study: Home Leavers, Non-Home Leavers, Care Leavers N=43 Follow up study on current practices: Youth from care (11), staff in transition programs (3) Analysis using Consensual Qualitative Research* which tracks themes and sub-themes across cases using a team approach * Hill, C., Thompson, B., & Williams, E. (1997). A guide to conducting consensual qualitative research. The Counseling Psychologist, 25,

8 Stabilizers Destabilizers Catalyst Motivation External Support Internal Assets Previous Experience Research and Planning Lack of Support Sadness Loneliness Overwhelmed Ambivalence Self Doubt Chaos Mastery Clarity Emotional Stability Insight Emerging Adult Challenges Safety Net Transition Adaptation

9 Lessons learned from home leavers Leaving home is a process of transition and adaptation It is preceded by a period of uncertainty and irritability This process is fueled by a motivation rather than readiness The process is accompanied by challenges and de- stabilizers that are normative,unavoidable, and emotionally unsettling most significant stabilizers : a safety net, parental expressions of confidence, opportunities to “rehearse” and peer modeling and support

10 Findings with Youth from Care Similarities:  Motivated and excited to leave despite lack of choice  Look forward to having their own space  Same worries about being on their own  Some, but not all, turn to peers for supportDifferences: Less ambivalent, more angry and resentful Pre-occupied with being a burden Exaggerated sense of responsibility and refusal to turn to staff More preparation but less practice

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12 Findings in relation to friendships in care Peer relationships tend to be discouraged Youth in care may have uneven access to technology and social media Friendship patterns may reflect placement history Friendships with other youth in care do not last Friendships with youth from outside care are difficult if not impossible to establish

13 Peer Centred Practice Use peer mentors in programs for youth exiting care Encourage the identification of room mates and support networks that will persist after leaving Support the formation of peer networks in care through group facilitation and cohort programming Challenge: To rethink our policies and procedures. What obstacles are we creating?

14 References, J Arnett,J.J. (2007)Aging out of care: Toward realizing the possibilities of emerging adulthood. In Mann-Feder, V. (Ed.)Transition or Eviction? Youth exiting care for independent living. New Directions in Youth Development, 113, Gordy-Levine,,T. (1990) Time to mourn again. In Maluccio,,A.N., Krieger, R. & Pines, B.A. (Eds.) Preparing adolescents for life after foster care. Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America. Mann-Feder, V., Eades, A., Sobel,E. & Destefano, J. (forthcoming) Leaving home: A Qualitative study. Canadian Journal of Youth and Families. Mann-Feder, V. (2011) Intervening with youth in the transition from care to independent living. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 23,8-13. Mann-Feder,V. & White.T. (2004). Facilitating the transition to independent living: Reflections on a program of research. International Journal of Child and Family Welfare, 6(4), Overton, S.S. (2006) The forgotten intervention; How to design environments that foster friendship. CYC-Online, Issue 93, available at overton.html.http://www.cyc-net.org?cycol overton.html


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