Listening to Advice from Young People in Foster Care—From Participation to Belonging
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonThe British Journal of Social Work. 2021, bcab138. 10.1093/bjsw/bcab138
Ensuring that young people in foster care receive the support they need at the right time, is a pressing issue across health- and social services. In this study, we aim to broaden the knowledge base on what constitutes appropriate help and support from the perspective of young people in long-term foster care in Norway. As part of a larger survey, young people in foster care (N = 178) aged eleven to eighteen years provided written accounts on the open-ended question: ‘What advice would you give adults who help young people living in foster care?’. We conducted a systematic content analysis to identify themes and categories across the data. Four main themes were identified: enable participation; build trusting relationships; ensure appropriate follow-up; and cultivate belonging. Participation served as a pivoting point across the themes, as a prerequisite for young people in care to receive the services they need and develop a positive self-relationship. Our findings indicate that services must be tailored to recognise how the strengths and needs of young people in foster care change over time and differ across individuals. Developing practice tools that enhance young people’s participation is therefore paramount, as social workers, foster parents and other adults are crucial to processes of well-being and belonging.