Commented Posters

Children and adolescents’ emotional regulation according to the trajectory of their placement in foster care

Emeline Delaville, University François-Rabelais of Tours, France.

Objective. – This research focuses on continuity and separations during the placement of foster children and adolescents. In this context, the notion of « parental abandonment » and « placed, transferred, relocated children » (Potin, 2009 & 2012) will be considered as variables having consequences on emotional regulation. This concerns more particularly coping strategies and temperamental dimensions (Compas, 2001 ; Rueda & Rothbart, 2009). The aim is to provide additional insights to improve care in foster care.

Methods and population. – 117 children and adolescents aged 7 to 16 placed in foster families participated in this study. Each young person responded to a scale measuring the frequency of coping strategies (« Kidcope ») as well as a temperament questionnaire (« Questionnaire d’auto et d’hétéro-évaluation du tempérament en sept facteurs pour l’enfant d’âge scolaire et l’adolescent »).  Results. – Analyzes are being processed. However, we assume that the multiplicity of separations experienced during the placement will generate significant stress. We expect results to highlight greater vulnerabilities of emotional regulation by young people experiencing separations and parental abandonment during their placement.

Conclusion. – These elements will lead to think about the development of tools promoting the continuity of children and adolescents life history. Certainly, it will reaffirm the need for a recognized link with an identified resource person.

Bibliography. –  Compas, B.E., Connor-Smith, J.K., Saltzman, H., Harding-Thomsen, A. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2001). Coping with stress during childhood and adolescence: Problems, progress, and potential in theory and research. Psychological Bulletin, 127(1), 87-127.   Liébert, P. (2015). Quand la relation parentale est rompue – Dysparentalité extrême et projets de vie pour l’enfant, Dunod.  Potin, E. (2009). Vivre un parcours de placement. Un champ des possibles pour l’enfant, les parents et la famille d’accueil. Société et jeunesses en difficulté, 8, 1-21.  Potin, E. (2012). Enfants placés, déplacés, replacés : parcours en protection de l’enfance, Érès, coll. Pratiques du champ social.   Rainville, S. (2002). L’abandon d’enfant. Dépister, accepter, accompagner, Bélivéau Editions.  Rueda, M. R. & Rothbart, M. K. (2009). The influence of temperament on the development of coping: The role of maturation and experience. In E. A. Skinner & M. J. ZimmerGembeck (Eds.), Coping and the development of regulation. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 124, pp. 19–31. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  Schofield, G. & Beek, M. (2006). Attachment handbook for foster care and adoption, BAAF. Guide de l’attachement pour les familles d’accueil et adoptives, Elsevier Masson, traduction française (2011).

Relationship between placement changes and mental health in child sexual abuse victims: a hierarchical regression. 

Marika Handfield, Université de Montréal, Canada.

Placement instability has been frequently associated with distrust and powerlessness, which have been linked to increased internalized and externalized problems in child sexual abuse victims (Hébert et al., 2016; Monette et al., 2008). Therefore, placement instability could predict internalised and externalised problems in child sexual abuse victims. The hypothesis is that placement changes will be associated with greater rates of consultation and hospitalisation for mental health in child sexual abuse victims. Participants (N=882) were systematically selected when receiving a corroborated report of child sexual abuse at the Quebec Youth Center from January 1st 2001 to December 31 2010. Using hierarchical regression to control for known predictors of mental health and placement instability (Esposito et al., 2014), results indicate that the number of placement changes does not significantly predict the number of consultations and hospitalisations for mental health.

This study demonstrates that number of placement is not systematically associated with greater mental health problems in child sexual abuse victims and shows. However, placement changes can sometimes be associated with a sense of control and power when initiated by the child (Hébert et al., 2016). Therefore, it is possible that placement changes are associated with greater mental health problems in child sexual abuse victims, but only when experiencing powerlessness. Prostitution can be used to recover control when experiencing placement instability (Coy, 2009). Considering that child sexual abuse victims are twice as likely to experience instability, further studies should inquire the relationship between placement changes and perceived powerlessness in child sexual abuse victims.

Children’s subjective well-being in child welfare

Emmanuelle Toussaint, Université Nantes, France

Research has shown that children placed in foster care have poor outcomes on many indicators of development and well-being. Yet, while there is a lot of interest for children’s quality of life in the field of education and health, this issue remains relatively unexplored in child welfare. Moreover, a number of recommendations enjoin us to take account of the children’s point of view while few studies actually focus on children and young people’s understanding of their own wellbeing.

This research aims a) to improve knowledge of foster children’s quality of life compared to a non-child welfare sample and b) to involve the analysis of the relationship between quality of life and different variables (representations of attachment, behavioral problems, variables related to placement course in the child welfare system). It was conducted with children aged 4-10 years, care in children’s foster homes (n = 40) and in their family.

Two questionnaires were used to compare the perception of a child with that of his/her entourage: the AUQUEI (Manificat & Dazord, 1997) completed by the children themselves and the Kindl-R (Ravens-Sieberer & Bullinger, 1998) by their surroundings: social workers vs. family. Behaviour problems were evaluated with the Child Behavior Check List (Achenbach, 1991) and attachment representations of children are explored with the Attachment Story Completion Task (Miljkovitch & al., 2003). The results showed that children placed into foster homes had significantly poorer quality of life and emphasized the complexity of issues associated with the quality of life of these children, including placement course and the important role of attachment representations. The implications for research and practice are discussed.

Learning by rhythms: a co-operative inquiry about foster care

Alessandra Rigamonti, Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca, Italia

Foster care is a complex and temporary process, characterized by separation of children/parents as well as continuation of their affective bonds. In this process many actors (children, social workers, families, social and health agencies) are involved, interacting and learning by their explicit/implicit temporalities intertwined with systemic, social and cultural temporal dimensions. Thus, the concept of “rhythm” (Alhadeff-Jones, 2017) could be used to illuminate the coordination of these simultaneous temporalities, including continuities and discontinuities in care trajectories. In Italy, educational research on the temporal dimensions related to foster care has been scarce.

My doctoral research will try to fill this gap by investigating how rhythms affect children’s and adults’ learning in the foster care process and how professionals are called to look after them. A complex and systemic methodological design will guide the research. A pilot project was already conducted with 12 foster care professionals, using co-operative inquiry (Heron, 1996) to explore the participant’s representations of foster care. In-depth interviews with other professionals were then used to point to the importance of rhythms.

The collected data will be further analyzed by a group of 10 social workers through co-operative inquiry in order to illuminate the presuppositions regarding the temporal dimensions and to critically explore the practices that sustain or hinder rhythms. This research also aims to outline innovative professional training design connecting with time concepts and improving knowledge about foster care. Respect for the families and children’s rhythms is in fact a requirement of any educational practice that should support their learning processes and relationships.

References Alhadeff-Jones M. (2017), Time and Rhythms of Emancipatory Education. Rethinking the temporal complexity of self and society, New York: Routledge Heron J. (1996), Cooperative Inquiry, Research into the human condition, London: SAGE

The many faces of the former foster youth label: How young women make sense of their experiences in care to develop and maintain a positive identity

Mathilde Turcotte, Institut universitaire du Centre jeunesse de Québec, Canada.

During the transition to adulthood, a positive identity is strongly associated with psychosocial well-being (Schwartz et al., 2013). For youths with a history of placement in foster care, a strong sense of self might be even more important since this transition usually occurs at a quicker pace, with less social support, and in a context of marginalization (Stein, 2006). Indeed, these young adults must often manage preconceptions and stereotypes in relation to their former foster youth status (McMurray et al., 2011).

The current study explored how young women with experiences in foster care – generally marked by instability – incorporate them into their life stories so that such experiences are coherent with their preferred identities (Reissman, 2008). In total, we conducted 20 qualitative interviews with women aged 20 years old in average, guided by a narrative identity perspective and the Life Story Interview (McAdams, 1995). In general, few participants reported concrete examples of stigmatization. However, their discourses were riddled with signs that they had interiorized preconceptions and stereotypes about “girls placed in foster care”. The main ones were a general reluctance to discuss the positive impacts of placement experiences on their trajectories; a tendency to present the placement as unjustified based on the benign nature of their problem behaviors; and comparisons that served to distance them as adults from “typical former foster girls”.

Such results highlight the need to offer a safe space and opportunities to foster youth to test discourses about their placements that reinforce, rather than threaten, their preferred identities.

How assessing the situation of a child can be used to work on continuities and avoid disruptions during a foster  placement ?

Amélie Turlais, Séverine Euillet, Claire Ganne, Université Paris Nanterre, France

In France, for the last fifteen years assessment in the field of child protection has been the concern of many actors.

At a legislative level, various laws such as the 2002-2 and the 2007-293 ones defined the evaluation of practices and the assessment of the situation of a child as being necessary to determine the needs for an intervention.

At a scientific level, a lot of research (Boutanquoi 2008, Durning, Gabel, 2002; Robin, 2009) has argued in favour of/for the importance of developing assessment tools to ensure the equality and the equity of an intervention.

At a practical level, assessment appears to be a major part of the process of decision-making during an intervention. However, on a national scale both the process of assessment and its resources are very heterogeneous.

From these observations, this research is dealing with how the situation of a child is assessed during a foster placement. Its aims are to (1) provide an inventory of resources used to conduct assessment in the various services of foster placement at a national level, (2) identify indicators used by professionals during the process of assessment, and (3) make the variety of practices regarding this process visible.

To conduct this research the methodology is divided into two phases. The first one is to gather data on resources used to conduct an assessment through a questionnaire. The second one is to access the point of view of professionals as well as children and parents on the use of assessment.

Our first intuition is that assessment could be used to work on continuity  for the child and to avoid disruptions, for instance to define the project of an intervention, to anticipate the consequences of critical events and to accompany the reflection of professionals on their work/or to contribute to the discussion of professionals about their work.

Continuité et changement des difficultés d’adolescentes placées en centre de réadaptation : un regard sur l’hétérogénéité des profils

Nadine Lanctôt, University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

Plusieurs études empiriques ont documenté les difficultés auxquelles se heurtent les jeunes placés une fois que ceux-ci franchissent la vie adulte. Bien qu’indispensables, ces études traitent de la population des « jeunes placés » dans son ensemble, comme un tout homogène, masquant ainsi toute l’hétérogénéité qui prend place dans les profils et parcours de ces jeunes. Les études les plus récentes dans le domaine s’attaquent maintenant à cette limite.

Une meilleure connaissance des profils des jeunes placés, à travers la configuration de leur historique de maltraitance, de leurs caractéristiques personnelles et familiales et de leurs troubles de comportement est essentielle afin de mieux comprendre les mécanismes qui expliquent le déclin ou la continuité des difficultés au cours de la vie (Brennan et al. 2012, Cauffman et al., 2015). De plus, malgré le portrait alarmant dépeint par les connaissances scientifiques quant au devenir des jeunes placés, il importe de reconnaître que certains jeunes empruntent un parcours différent en se mobilisant, par exemple, pour retourner à l’école, pour se trouver un emploi stable ou pour reconstruire leurs relations avec des personnes pouvant avoir une influence positive sur leur vie (Samuels et Pryce, 2008).

Cette présentation s’appuiera sur des données de l’étude longitudinale montréalaise sur les adolescentes placées en centre de réadaptation (Lanctôt, 2011) pour exposer les liens observés entre divers profils d’adolescentes et la qualité de leur adaptation psychosociale au début de l’âge adulte.

La qualité de vie en accueil familial : le point de vue des jeunes

Séverine Euillet, Université Paris Nanterre, France.

L’évolution actuelle vers une singularisation des dispositifs et des interventions en protection de l’enfance rend la prise en compte de la perspective des enfants et des familles indispensable. La qualité de vie constitue alors une notion suffisamment globale et multidimensionnelle, universelle et individuelle, objectivable et subjective pour être investiguée en profondeur tant dans une visée scientifique que professionnelle. Différentes conceptions de la qualité de vie servent de repère dans ce travail (Upton, 2008 ; Ben Arieh & Frones, 2007), mises en perspective avec les travaux relatifs aux enfants accueillis explorant divers facteurs explicatifs (parcours de placement, vécu de maltraitance, exposition aux violences conjugales, conditions d’accueil, …). A l’échelle d’un département français, l’objectif de cette recherche est de connaître la qualité de vie estimée par les jeunes accueillis eux-mêmes. 59 jeunes âgés de 10 à 18 ans accueillis en famille d’accueil ont complété la version française du Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (MSLSS-R) développée par Huebner, Zullig & Runa (2012). Composée de 30 items, elle évalue cinq domaines de vie : la famille, l’école, les amis, le cadre de vie et le soi. Les résultats préliminaires relèvent la faiblesse de deux dimensions « soi » et « école » et la prédominance de la dimension « famille ». Les mises en perspective avec les contexte de vie des jeunes (situation personnelle/familiale, conditions d’accueil, modalités de rencontres avec les parents) permettront de disposer d’éléments éclairants pour comprendre le vécu/ressenti de ces jeunes.

Promoting Foster care at the EU level

Vincent Ramon, APFEL

Apfel is an association(2013) who wants to promote quality  standards for foster care and make bridges between practice and research . Its 3  thematic working groups focus on Voice of the child (rights ,expression,story telling/narrative) , quality care through  training and standards ,co-parenting and plural parenting.

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