Anne Steenbakkers, PhD student, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Steffie van der Steen, Researcher, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Hans Grietens, Researcher University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Foster children have been disproportionately exposed to traumatic events (Turney & Wildeman, 2017), which are perceived as important factors contributing to problems and specific needs they experience (Berrick & Skivenes, 2012; Bruskas, 2008). Despite the growing interest in the stories of foster children, only a few studies have focused on experiences of foster youth with trauma and dealing with the consequences (see e.g., Reimer & Schäfer, 2015; Riebschleger, Day, & Damashek, 2015). Our study aims to add to the current knowledge by asking youth themselves how they experience the impact of (chronic) adverse events. Episodic interviews (Flick, 1997) with 13 (former) foster youth aged 15-23 in the Netherlands were conducted. They were asked to elaborate on their needs as foster children and the impact they encountered from adverse childhood events. The interviews were transcribed and relevant extracts for this specific research question were selected. These were subjected to open coding and organized in sub-themes and themes using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Youth described various events they consider adverse, such as child maltreatment, parental dysfunctioning, conflicts, and the out-of-home placement. These events had an impact both on the youth themselves and on how they interact with others. For example, youth mentioned internalizing problems, anger, and personal growth, but also that others can trigger traumatic memories and that relationships with others change after adverse experiences. Our study can help foster parents and professionals to further understand foster youth and support them.
Key-words: Foster youth’s views, trauma, child maltreatment, perceived impact, adverse childhood experiences