The Lived Experiences of Young Adults who Grew Up in Foster Care with Permanence: A Qualitative Study
Citation:Whiting, Sinead Ann, The Lived Experiences of Young Adults who Grew Up in Foster Care with Permanence: A Qualitative Study, Trinity College Dublin, School of Social Work & Social Policy, Social Studies, 2023
Sinead Whiting PhD FinalSubmission May 2023.pdf (PhD Thesis) 3.871Mb
This qualitative doctoral study examines the current lives and lived experiences of a group of young adults who grew up in foster care with permanence. A key objective was to gain insights into whether or how, growing up in foster care with permanence has impacted their early adult lives, including their experiences of the transitions to adulthood and out of care. This is important because young people growing up in care may face additional challenges not faced by their non-care experienced peers and securing permanence within foster care placement has been understood to help mitigate these challenges. Previously, permanence was understood to equate to a legal status such as adoption. However, within recent discourse conceptualisations of permanence have been expanding to encompass relational permanence, understood to be secure and long-lasting ties between the young person and their foster carers. This study contributes new knowledge about how key issues relating to permanence, for young people in foster care, are understood and investigated. This was achieved by hearing directly from young adults who grew up in foster care with permanence and investigating their current lives and lived experiences in early adulthood. The study participants, when asked about their current lives, chose to also share narratives about, and to reflect on, their lived experiences while growing up in foster care. This allowed for an examination of the issues across time. In addition, the lens of youth transitions was utilised to gain insights into whether, or in what way, their lived experiences of permanence while in care have influenced their transitions out of care and to early adulthood. This study, undertaken in Ireland, was guided by the primary research question: What are the lived experiences of young adults who grew up in foster care with permanence? The core aims were to: i) investigate the lived experiences of young adults who grew up in long-term foster care with permanence (either legal or relational); ii) examine how growing up with permanence in foster care impacts the young adults? relationships with foster family, birth family and the world around them in early adulthood; iii) scrutinise the ways permanence (either legal or relational) within foster care placements, influence the young adults? transition to adulthood; iv) consider current conceptualisations of permanence for young people growing up in care; and v) establish the ways in which findings from this study can add to this knowledge base. Semi-structured qualitative interviews, guided by key tenets of narrative inquiry, were undertaken with twenty-two young adults aged between 20-30 years all of whom had grown up in foster care with permanence in Ireland. Diverse pathways of permanence were represented as experiences of both relational and legal permanence were included. Reflective thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. There were four core findings about the lived experiences of this group of young adults. These findings are: i) permanence is co-created between the young person and their foster carers throughout their time in care; ii) permanence is re-negotiated during the transition out of care and the transition to early adulthood; iii) managing complex family ties is an important aspect of experiences of permanence in foster care, both during childhood and during the transition to early adulthood; iv) growing up with permanence in foster care has allowed the young adults to make choices about the stories they shared about their lives, including their care identity and their family identities. Key contributions to knowledge include broadening how key issues relating to permanence for young people in foster care are understood and investigated. Implications of the study include that future research examining these issues should: i) hear directly from young adults who have lived experience of growing up in foster care with permanence; ii) include the lens of youth transitions, which allows for valuable insights into the lived experience of permanence; iii) be mindful that birth family continues to be significant both in childhood and early adulthood for young people who have grown up in foster care with permanence; iv) view young people as agentic actors in the process of co-creating and re-negotiating permanence within their care placements.
Author: Whiting, Sinead Ann
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Social Work & Social Policy. Discipline of Social Studies
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available