In 1993, Texas became one of the first states to adopt a post-secondary tuition and fee waiver for foster youth. In the present study, we examine the post-secondary achievements of a cohort of foster youth in Texas. Youth formerly in care were followed from age 18 to 24. Academic data reveal that only 1.5% of the youth received a bachelor’s degree and 2% received an associate’s degree or certificate, despite the state tuition and fee waiver. While we cannot assess causality, our descriptive data indicate potential waiver benefits in terms of post-secondary enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. However, results reveal that a significant percentage of emancipated youth who enroll in college (all waiver eligible), do not utilize the waiver (46%). In addition, the graduation rate for waiver recipients, while higher than non-recipients, is low. Study findings suggest that waivers may be a viable strategy for promoting higher education among foster youth. However, to substantively improve post-secondary outcomes for foster youth, tuition legislation must be supplemented with initiatives specifically designed to promote waiver utilization as well as college retention and graduation.
The journey following migration for adolescent youth can consist of psychosocial and sociocultural difficulties with acculturating and integrating into the new host society. The family unit, however, has been identified to be a source of strength and wellbeing for youth during the integration process. This study explores factors that are suggested to make the home environment more supportive after migration. Newcomer youth between 15 and 18 years of age within a medium-sized Canadian city, living in Canada for no more than 2 years were interviewed in a group setting. Mixed methods were utilized and collected data was analyzed using concept mapping. Participants stated wanting more positive feedback from and increased communication with parents, in addition to having a home that is more open and welcoming to friends. The needs of youth can be sourced in the effects of the migrant journey and acculturation process. By improving the degrees of understanding, warmth, communication and cultural integration in the home, youth and their families can develop a greater sense of cohesion which can assist with supporting their migrant experience. Implications for practitioners working with newcomer youth and their families are provided, in addition to research and policy-related implications.
The current study examines the impact of adolescent–parent communication, which can play a significant role in alleviating risk behaviors, especially adolescent dating violence (ADV). Adolescents (N = 55; 28 males and 27 females), majority of whom were Latinos, were recruited from social service agencies serving youth and families. Adolescents completed a paper survey on the Parent–Adolescent Communication (comprised of open and problematic subscales) and Revised Conflict Tactics scales. T-tests and ANOVAs were conducted revealing that youth with ADV experience reported lower overall communication levels with their parents and increased problematic communication, especially with their mothers than adolescents with no ADV experience. No significant difference emerged by age or gender but Latino youth who experience ADV had lower levels of problematic communication with both parents. Teens, whose mothers were receiving domestic violence-related services, versus who were not receiving services, reported more overall communication with their mothers. Implications for educators, practitioners, and research are provided.
This article focuses on the narratives of 18 adolescent boys as they engaged with issues of sex, sexuality and peer relations in their daily lives. The ethnographic research was conducted in two public secondary schools in a working-class community within KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Participants were boys aged between 16 and 19 years, who self-identified as either Black African or Indian. Theories of positioning are employed in this paper to delve into the complexity and intricacies of boys enacting their masculinities and sexual identities within a one-to-one interview space with one of the researchers. Identity performance in this private space is read in relation to public positions (in the company of peers), exposing the malleable nature of positioning and its subjective use in different spaces. Findings suggest that boys’ struggle with the concept and social practice of ‘masculinity’, and that while they may not want to be seen as aspiring to certain ideals regarding male sexuality, these values remain a standard against which to evaluate self and other. In the individual interviews, authenticity as a heterosexual man is negotiated through various rhetorical strategies, namely a tendency to self-position as mature and sensible. It is argued that positionality is a useful conceptual tool for highlighting diversities in the performance of masculinities, and that intervention strategies need to pay attention to how spaces are constructed and nurtured for boys to engage with the ideological dilemmas in their identity development.
Youth departing from secure youth care are often not well prepared for living on their own. This study aims to provide more insight into youth’s perspectives on what they need to improve their chances for successful return to and participation in Dutch society. The study is a first necessary step on a journey to develop a tool for these youth to evaluate the development of autonomy and participation. We chose for a participatory research methodology. Youth participated as co-researchers in all steps of the research. Sixteen adolescents aged 15–20 years participated in open in-depth interviews using an autobiographical life story method. They were treated as partners and future owners of the tool to be developed. The interviews were transcribed and analysed. Realizing trustworthy social bonds appeared essential for developing autonomy. Youth started to move when they were socially connected and had found out what they value. Then they started “to do their thing” and “to find their own path”, which was their language for experiencing autonomy. An interesting new finding was the importance of rest for youth to enable them to develop self-insight and to find their own path. The findings imply that staff in secure residential care should invite youth to develop their own ideas about their life and future, stimulate exploration and reflection, and a dialogue with people around them. Opportunity for acting, trying and doing is also needed, so that youth can discover in practice what works for them.
When children of high-conflict divorced parents prefer one parent and resist or refuse visitation with the other parent, some authors have spoken of this situation as parental alienation (PA). PA refers to cases of avoidance of a parent in which the preferred parent is alleged to have manipulated the child’s thinking and created antagonism toward the non-preferred parent, and in which neither abuse nor neglect has been substantiated. Advocates of the PA concept have offered treatment methods that entail court-ordered separation of the child from the preferred parent, followed by intensive treatment and aftercare through specialized counseling, with separation and treatment sometimes lasting years. This paper examines the published evidence and other material related to the safety and effectiveness of PA treatments, and concludes that the treatments have not been shown to be effective, but are in fact potentially harmful. Suggestions are made for research approaches that could help to explain avoidance of a parent and that could yield effective treatment for such avoidance.
Although the literature is copious with studies using qualitative methodology to retrospectively explore issues related to child sexual abuse (CSA) from the adult’s perspective, there is a dearth of qualitative literature regarding the child’s perception of sexual abuse. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis (QIMS) is to inform practice and research to understand how children make sense of sexual abuse, the factors that influence their disclosure experiences, and coping methods used after disclosure. The QIMS included studies from various disciplines, including psychology, sociology, social work and medicine, to understand the experiences of childhood victims of sexual abuse. Three themes and five subthemes emerged: (1) phases of CSA: (a) initial onset of symptoms, (b) maladaptive coping, and (c) paralyzing fear; (2) types of disclosure: (a) healthy disclosure and healing and (b) destructive disclosure, and; (3) traumatizing “helping” process for CSA victims. In an effort to reduce negative outcomes associated with CSA, it is imperative to explore one’s perception of sexual abuse while still a child to inform prevention and intervention efforts of their specific understanding of the experience.
This study assesses prevalence of substance use, and the impact of housing instability. and independence preparation on substance use in two samples: youth currently in-care and former foster youth. Both samples were from a mid-Atlantic state with youth currently in-care residing in rural jurisdictions and former foster youth residing in the state’s largest urban jurisdiction. A cross-sectional design utilizing paper and web-based surveys was used to collect data. Findings indicate youth in-care are consuming substances that are on average with national prevalence statistics. However, former foster youth are consuming substances at alarmingly high rates well above the national prevalence. A high rate of housing instability after leaving child welfare was reported for former foster youth. In addition, greater preparation for independence among former foster youth was associated with less substance usage. Implications for social work practice, independence preparation, and life skills classes are presented.
Mental illness is a pressing public health concern, particularly when the onset is during childhood or adolescence. Many youth admitted to hospital-based psychiatric care experience school-related difficulties. The purpose of this report was to explore the associations of academic difficulties, school avoidance and school engagement to total psychological difficulties and emotional problems. Youth completed surveys that included standardized measures of school-related factors and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire while in hospital. Psychiatrists provided the primary diagnosis and diagnosis most responsible for the current admission. In total, 161 patients participated in this study (mean age 15 years, SD 1.4; 75% female). All three school-related variables were significantly associated with emotional problems; however, only school avoidance and academic difficulties were associated with total difficulties. School-related concerns were significantly associated with the severity of mental health symptoms. Patients may benefit from attention to school-related difficulties before discharge from psychiatric care that continues beyond school reintegration.
To establish commonalities and differences in social norms related to corporal punishment among Black, Latino, and White parents, we first examine survey data from a random sample of a nationally representative opt-in internet panel (n = 2500) to establish the frequency of corporal punishment among parents of children under five (n = 540) and their perceptions of the frequency of use of corporal punishment in their community and whether they ought to use corporal punishment. We disaggregate by race/ethnicity and education to identify higher risk groups. To better understand the beliefs underlying these perceptions among the higher risk group (i.e., less educated), we used a grounded theory approach to analyze data from 13 focus groups (n = 75) segmented by race/ethnicity (i.e., Black, Latino, or White), gender (i.e., mothers or fathers), and population density (i.e., rural or urban). Survey findings revealed that 63% of parents spanked, albeit the majority seldom or sometimes. Spanking was most frequent among Latinos (73%) and lowest among White parents (59%). While all participants across racial/ethnic groups believed the majority of parents spanked, even more than the proportion that actually do, about half believed they ought to spank. Perceptions of the frequency and acceptability of corporal punishment were associated with use of corporal punishment. The qualitative findings highlight more similarities than differences across Black, Latino, and White communities. The findings suggest social norms change efforts might focus on parents with less education and influencing perceptions around whether they ought to spank.
Social norms regarding corporal punishment (CP) may be the most important population-level risk factor for child physical abuse in the U.S. Little is known about the perceived social contexts, such as perceived norms and collective efficacy, that are linked with CP. In particular, there is a paucity of research exploring the direct and/or moderating roles of collective efficacy in reducing CP as a risk factor for child physical abuse. The current study examined the linkages between perceived neighborhood levels of both parenting collective efficacy and injunctive norms regarding CP use with maternal attitudes toward and use of CP. Data were utilized from a survey conducted with female primary caregivers (N = 436) enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children clinics in the Greater New Orleans Area. Perceived collective efficacy was not significantly associated with attitudes toward CP, and had only a marginally significant positive association with CP use (χ 2 (2, N = 436) = 8.88, p = 0.06). Further, perceived injunctive norms (i.e., perceived higher levels of approval) of CP use by neighbors were positively associated with positive attitudes toward CP use (AOR: 6.43; 95% CI 4.00, 10.33) and greater frequency of CP use (AOR: 2.57; 95% CI 1.62, 4.09). There was evidence of effect modification by perceived collective-efficacy on the relation between injunctive norms of neighbors and frequency of CP use (p = 0.082). For those who reported high perceived collective efficacy, there was a significant association between positive perceived injunctive norms and frequency of CP use (AOR: 3.24; 95% CI 1.51, 6.95); this suggests that perceived collective efficacy does not buffer risk for CP use when parents perceive that neighbors approve of its use. Targeted efforts for larger communities to shift beliefs and attitudes regarding CP use may be valuable not only in shifting community norms supportive of CP but also in building supportive community networks that discourage parents from using CP and encourage them to practice non-harsh parenting strategies.
This paper explores the relevance of preventive social work-focused programs implemented in schools in order to reduce psychoactive substance abuse by adolescents. The research was implemented in the city-district school of Castelo Branco, a Portuguese central inland territory. By using a qualitative research methodology, it was possible to learn about adolescent students’ life experience and their peers related with the drug abuse and their perceptions about their experience in school preventive social programs. Although this case study does not allow generalization, it confirms: (1) the existence of psychoactive substance abuse behaviors by young students in the school; (2) the social work intervention carried out in the school did not have the desired effects, because drug abuse continues to assume significant importance in this and in other schools. Given these conclusions, the authors emphasize the importance of nonspecific preventive activities at an early life stages that alter or prevent drug abuse through practices that do not focus only on drugs and consumption behaviors. The results argue the need to rethink the social work intervention programs carried out in elementary schools and to create new intervention forms that prioritize drug abuse prevention in a more holistic way. So this article is divided into four parts: purpose, method, results, and discussion.
In Portugal, direct-practice with children and youth in schools was a traditional area of social work intervention especially with regard to health education. However, direct-practice by social workers in schools has significantly declined in recent years. This article presents a case study in this area highlighting the “Plataforma Saúde na Escola” (Health Platform at School), a program developed by the municipality of Cascais, located near Lisbon. The article explores new contributions for social work intervention with children and youth in schools. The program being described draws upon a collaboration of different areas and organizations in which social work is a component to promote/improve the social determinants of children's health. The analysis of the program focuses on the methodological and ethical-political dimensions. The major finding is that the collective function of social work with children and youth people is enhanced through collaborative networks and the strengthening of empowerment, both individual and structural.
Adoption provides stability, loving care, security, and family interactions for children that have been separated from their birth parents. It also entails many challenges and difficulties, especially for adoptees in middle childhood, since feelings of loss can be particularly strong at this developmental stage. Aiming to use empirical evidence to improve adoption-related policies and practices, this study focused on the adoption-related gains, losses and difficulties, poorly explored in adoption research. One-hundred and two children aged 8–10, who were adopted from care at different ages, were interviewed using the Children’s Interview about Adoption. Data collected on gains, losses and difficulties were analyzed using content analysis. Results showed that adopted children identified four main gains inherent to the experience of being adopted. The most frequent gains were related to being part of a family and experiencing family life. Adoptees identified losses related to their pre-adoption life, particularly birth family loss (parents and siblings), and previous relationships loss (especially school peers). Most adoptees reported facing family and social relationships difficulties in their post-adoption life, such as communicating openly about adoption with the adoptive parents and peers. Findings showed that children’s adaptation to adoption is complex, ambivalent and individually experienced. Adopted children need parents and professionals to help them elaborate and make sense of their life story. Important implications for practice and research with adoptees, adoptive parents, adoption professionals/practitioners and school staff were drawn from data.
This study focused on health promotion for children and young adults who live in residential care institutions in Portugal. It aims to understand how these institutions promote the health of the children and young adults who live there and secure their right to health. Multiple qualitative methods were used, including a bibliographic, documental and field research, as well as semi-structured interviews with the professionals of these institutions. The results showed that the institutions are concerned with the health promotion of children and young adults, promoting actions both for the professionals, the children and their families. The type of support they offer includes access to public services, but also to their own resources regarding health and the possibilities of partnership with private health institutions. These are especially realized in the fields of mental and oral health, since in these areas the public system was found to have some shortcomings. The results indicate the need to develop new alternatives for the health promotion of children and young adults who live in these residential care institutions, since these services are essential for their well-being and integral development.