Stories of Adversity and Resistance: an Analysis of Former Children and Youth in Care’s Memoirs
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Advances in child welfare to increase the quality of services provided to children, youth, and families continue to be achieved; however, there are still significant challenges in “the System” which children and youth in care (CYIC) must face on a daily basis. Within the context of these ongoing challenges, and the adverse conditions which precede removal from their families, CYIC are diagnosed with mental health disorders at a highly disproportionate rate compared to other people their age. The intention of this research was to add to a body of knowledge which contextualizes the behavioural and emotional responses of CYIC to the adversities they face while in care, and to help move away from a language of effects and pathologization towards an understanding and appreciation of how CYIC respond to their social and material environments. A content analysis was undertaken of six memoirs published by former CYIC from a response-based perspective. Results illustrate the wide range of responses and forms of resistance, through behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, which the authors described in relation to the following key challenges: instability, school, family connection, foster placements, abuse, and power over. Recommendations for practice aim to promote respectful inquiry and engagement with CYIC to elicit the ways in which their responses and resistance indicate inherent abilities and protection of their dignity.