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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Make life "everyday" for foster children

I am fascinated by a study from the University of Leicester in the UK which looks at the value of simple everyday activities for children in care. It seems that engaging children in the kinds of typical day to day activities can positively impact the sense of well-being. This can be what seems mundane - take the children shopping; play games; help care for pets; get involved in fun activities like going swimming.


These various types of activities engage children with the family system and also expose them to low stress and rewarding experiences. It socializes the child in a different way than may be quite different than experiences prior to coming into care. These sorts of activities, the researchers note, help the children to find their place within the social environment. By being successful and belonging, they can then develop a sense of empowerment in their own world - they be become actors who can create positivity in their life and are not driven by protective reactivity.

This can also lead children into finding comfort and reward in activities that link them to prosocial environments and connections.

In the world of increasing budget constraints, ins't it wonderful to think of the power of these everyday types of activities when a child is included in them with the foster family and other peers. This can also mentor children into learning how to manage free time more constructively.

The report notes:

  • The participation of young people growing up in care is constructed in binary ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ terms. This research has found that this perception can lead to facilitated activities being overvalued and everyday participation being undervalued. The self-expression found in some forms of everyday participation feeds into young people’s sense of autonomy, yet this is not always recognised. 
  • Participation facilitated by the corporate parent and foster carers of young people in care has a positive influence on the choices young people make regarding their own everyday participation. But this works both ways and what they choose to do in their free time in turn influences their decision to engage with the types of participation on offer. 
  •  Safeguarding the well-being of young people in care is a priority for social services and carers. Ensuring and upholding this priority affects and takes precedence in different aspects of the young persons everyday life, including their participation. The requirement to safeguard can interrupt or even prevent participation inside and outside of the home. This leads to young people in care being treated differently and at times can lead to their exclusion.  
  • Participation for young people exists in different geographical locations. However, when a young person in care moves placement, participation can be disrupted or even discontinued. 

The latter point speaks to the need for stability so that children can make connections that they can then hold onto allowing them to expand their sense of place, belonging and worth.

If you would like to look at the report go here and follow the links.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Peter-- I'd like to nominate your blog for a Liebster Award! I really like your writing, and it's such an important topic. See my last post at internationalsocialworker.com for more info.

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  2. I agree and I feel like few people are aware of these issues.

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