Champions for Children and Youth: The 2010 British Columbia Summit
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Champions for Children and Youth: The 2010 British Columbia Summit October 18 and 19, Vancouver, British Columbia. Connecting Communities, Building Acceptance: A Child’s and Youth’s Right to Belong

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Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

Champions for Children and Youth: The 2010 British Columbia Summit October 18 and 19, Vancouver, British Columbia

Connecting Communities, Building Acceptance: A Child’s and Youth’s Right to Belong

Don Fuchs, PhD, Professor Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba


Assumptions

Assumptions

  • It is assumed that the children’s and youth’s strong sense of relationship with family, peers and community connectedness provides them the protection from a sense of isolation and social exclusion.

  • This sense of connectedness for the promotion growth, development and adaptation to social, economic and cultural realities in which they live.

  • Reliable social connections in children’s and youth proximal social environment are essential for the promotion of growth and resilience.


Assumptions1

Assumptions

  • Social Connectedness is essential for the development of security of person and identity formation.

  • Stable, culturally appropriate “in-care” placement essential to assist children and youth to cope with trauma and to grow on their development trajectories.

  • Opportunities to participate as volunteers or in extra curricular activities foster a perceived sense of social connectedness and social support.


Assumptions2

Assumptions

  • Children and Youth who do not have access to reliable connections to an adult or adolescent peer in there social networks are at high risk to mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, exploitation, and/teen pregnancy.


Findings of our research

Findings of our Research

  • Planning for the transition to adulthood is fraught with disengagement and rejection of potential supports, despite policies intended to ensure that youth are supported through emancipation.

  • The findings from our study are also consistent with the literature on youth with FASD in many ways. The respondents reported having experienced difficulties in school, which frequently ended in school disruptions. The youth also exhibited secondary behaviours that are frequently associated with FASD, including anger, aggression, anxiety, poor self-concept, addictions, and mental health problems.


Findings of research continued

Findings of Research Continued

  • Unanticipated  findings from this study include the extent to which these youth blame themselves for the failures and disappointments in their lives.

  • Another relatively new finding is the impression that these youth have that they are not ‘normal’.

  • One of the most important findings from this study is the fact that youth with FASD, much like their unaffected peers, appear to develop the cognitive capacity for abstract thought and self-reflection in young adulthood, and seem to follow much the same development trajectory as other adolescents and young adults.

    .


Implications

Implications

  • Further research is necessary. A need for new and effective methods of engaging children and youth in successful in school and community activities and transitioning processes that will address issues of both being in care and being in care with a disability has been demonstrated here.


Recommendations

Recommendations

  • Our most recent research demonstrated that many young adults with FASD quickly become parents. The cost in human and fiscal terms of emancipating unprepared young adults with FASD is, in itself, significant. The cost of the generation they will produce may well be staggering. Little is known about the children of those with FASD. This second generation would be a most fertile area for further exploration. Are these children also affected by FASD? Do they routinely come into care? How can parents with FASD be supported? There is an urgent need to understand and then address the needs of this group.


Recommendations1

Recommendations

  • Finally, the connections between child welfare and addiction services must be vibrant and robust if interventions in families struggling with shared issues are to be successful. Some jurisdictions have moved to address the co-occurrence of addiction and child maltreatment but the coordination of these programs in Manitoba has not been fully realized. The prevention of FASD must be highlighted as a critical priority and addressed aggressively across systems of health, education and child welfare.

  • Until prevention efforts have been successful, the cost of children with FASD and any exceptional costs associated with their children must be added to the social and human cost of alcohol misuse and addiction.


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

Conclusions For Connecting Communities, Building Acceptance and Supporting A Child’s and Youth’s Right to Belong

  • While there seem to be some solid levels of children and youth volunteerism and student engagement in extracurricular activities, the majority of the youth are feeling their teachers and adults in their life are not available or do not care for them. This particularly acute for children and youth in care

  • This lack of connectedness can lead to school drop outs and can exacerbate health and mental health problems faced by the youth. This would suggest the need for policy and programs aimed at fostering child and youth engagement in the schools and community organizations.


Conclusions continued

Conclusions Continued

  • This data would suggest the need for more policy and programs aimed at developing more effective opportunities for children and youth to get engaged with schools professionals in focused community connected schools and adults in the community.

  • This would be best done in the form extracurricular or within the more activity and interactional oriented program so that children and youth can feel safe, supported and connected in manners that they can perceive as meaningful.


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • In addition the data would suggest the need for more effective training for school professionals on children and youth engagement in the school system to assist in addressing child and youth health and mental health issues.

  • Finally, the data would suggest the need for more outreaching supports to youth not engaged or marginally engaged in the school system. This would be important for those in and out care of the child welfare system and particularly for those ethnic groups overrepresented in the child welfare and the criminal justice system.


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

Research Team

Linda Burnside, Manitoba Family Services

Don Fuchs, University of Manitoba

Shelagh Marchenski, University of Manitoba

Andria Mudry, University of Manitoba

Funded by

Public Health Agency of Canada


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

The Children with FASD Project Studies:

Children in Care with Disabilities (2005)

Children in Care with FASD (2007)

Transition Out-of-Care Youth with FASD (2007)

Cost of Child Welfare Care (2008)

Economic Impact of FASD (2009)


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Children with FASD:

    • entered care at a younger age than other children in care

    • became Permanent Wards more quickly than other children, due to the younger age of admission to care

    • spent a greater proportion of their lives in care N = 122


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Children with FASD often come into care because of the conduct of their parents, not because of a diagnosis of FASD.

  • The diagnosis of the child’s FASD often occurs after the child has entered care.

  • CWD with FASD often have other disabilities particularly ADHD.

    • N = 122


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Approximately 30% of youth were maintained in their longest placement until age of majority.

  • Placements tended to breakdown in adolescence.

  • A breakdown in the longest placement tended to be followed by several moves.

  • Care was seldom extended past age 18 and rarely past age 19.

  • Youth experienced many social workers over their time in care. N = 27


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Youth with FASD need particular assistance to navigate the transition from children in care services to the adult service system.

  • Consideration needs to be given to providing youth with FASD and other cognitive disabilities extensions of care to better support their transition to adulthood.

  • Opportunities to engage youth in their transition processes is critical.

  • N = 27


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Implications

  • As the number of children in care increases, we can expect the number of children in care with disabilities to increase proportionally.

  • Children with FASD, as the group with the greatest dependence on agency care, need to be recognized as a priority for child welfare agencies and other children and youth support services in the education and health sector.


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

  • Implications

  • Because of its frequency and the length of time affected children are in care, FASD presents a significant issue for child welfare agencies.

  • Large numbers of children with FASD will be transitioning out of care and will require services in the adult system.

  • The importance of gathering disability information in child welfare administrative data systems is demonstrated.

  • Effective prenatal alcohol prevention programs and postnatal family supports are essential.


Connecting communities building acceptance a child s and youth s right to belong

All Reports Available At:

The Centre of Excellence for Child Wellbeing’s Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal:

http://www.cecw-cepb.ca/catalogue


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