Resilience in children in out-of-home care

Jennifer Terry

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This study explores the notion of resilience and, in particular, its efficacy as a framework to assist and guide professionals in their work with children placed in the care of the State, many of whom have experienced situations of severe disadvantage, including abuse and neglect, prior to their admission to the out-of-home care system. The further distress and/or trauma for children, which is engendered by separation from their families and placement with strangers, is exacerbated by circumstances of transience and instability that many children experience during their care journeys. The study examines the care system as a circumstance of adversity and seeks to find out how specialist practitioners working in the care environment understand the notion of resilience and whether they operationalise the concept in their practice to assist children in care. The study is set within a critically reflective perspective, informed by a hermeneutic process that assists in building a deeper understanding of both the notion of resilience and the care system through the lived experiences of practitioners and interpretation of the literature on both topics. An unanticipated finding that emerged from research discussions conducted with practitioners revealed that their experiences of working within the care system created a sense of adversity for them and challenged their resilience, with many parallels between their responses and their observations of the distress and trauma of children in care. The necessity to understand these practitioners? experiences more deeply led to a further exploration of literature that described the impact of working in such adverse settings. This exploration uncovered the notion of vicarious traumatisation, a phenomenon that affects workers who are in continual contact with the trauma of others. An indepth discussion of this concept is provided outlining its relevance to this study. The implications of the impact of the adversity of the care environment on professionals are summarised in the final chapter of the study together with recommendations in the areas of both practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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