Robbie Gilligan, Researcher, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
The presentation proposes that the themes of disruption and continuity can usefully be seen as being about more than the characteristics of the placement(s) provided for the young person in foster care. It will be argued that disruption and continuity in influential experiences within placements are also important. These experiences can help to shape longer term narratives that influence the young person’s aspirations, expectations and hopes for their own future. Narratives of potential may come to replace narratives of failure, which are too often associated with the lives of young people in care. Drawing on evidence from studies relating to work and recreation experiences of young people in care (Arnau and Gilligan, 2015, Gilligan and Arnau, 2016, Gilligan, 2008), the presentation suggests how foster carers can cultivate narratives of potential and hope among young people in their care. Specifically, the presentation explores how foster carers can help young people in care to build enduring connections (or continuities) in the world of work or recreation, connections that may have benefit long beyond the placement. These experiences may help to open up narratives of potential and possibility, rather than failure. The presentation will also have relevance to current topical issues such as extending the age of care leaving that is happening in many jurisdictions, and supporting young people in care in the process of transition to adulthood.
Key-words: carers, work, recreation, young people, narratives