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'Look, I realise what's going on' - a study of young adult's experiences of contact provision while in care and the implications for social work practice / [thesis]
Deignan, Aisling
This study was conducted while the researcher was engaged as a social work team leader in the areas of fostering and aftercare provision in community care within the Health Service Executive in Ireland. The main aim of this study was to find out how young, adult, ex-service users experienced contact with their birth families while they were children in the foster care system. It also sought their views on and understanding of the purpose and function of contact in their lives. Limited research has been conducted to date in this area. In this context, the study is thought to provide a worthy contribution to knowledge in the social work field. The voices of eighteen young people, who have in recent years left the foster care system, were accessed through focus group discussions and individual interviews. These young people have given their perspective on their personal experience of contact with their birth families while in care. File data was also examined on a population of 65 young people who had left care between the years 1999-2006. The study found that contact as it is currently delivered frequently fails to fulfil the expectations and needs of the children concerned. Out of this key finding, practical recommendations for social work practice for the improvement of contact provision between children in foster care and their birth families were developed. Both the reporting of the young people and the analysis of HSE file data conducted for the study demonstrated that a refocusing of social workers’ time and efforts are needed if more meaningful and better quality contact for children in care is to be provided into the future. The main recommendation that emerged was the necessity for healing, both of the child in terms of their own identity and of their relationships within their birth family. This was necessary whether or not the child returned home. Contact has been identified as a crucial space to facilitate this healing work. Another key recommendation, which was linked to the young people’s desire for a more rounded sense of their own identity, as well as in order to access personal supports, was the provision of regular, quality contact with siblings, extended family members and significant others.
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: Lenus
Publisher(s): University College Dublin (UCD)
Supervisor(s): Health Service Executive (HSE), Louth Integrated Services
First Indexed: 2014-04-02 06:12:55 Last Updated: 2017-04-26 08:28:23