Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities
Articles Information
Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol.5, No.3, Sep. 2019, Pub. Date: May 31, 2019
Contact with Birth Parents: Hearing the Voice of the Looked After Child
Pages: 194-199 Views: 133 Downloads: 85
Authors
[01] Eimear McDowell, School of Psychology, Ulster University, Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
[02] Marian McLaughlin, School of Psychology, Ulster University, Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
[03] Tony Cassidy, School of Psychology, Ulster University, Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
Abstract
Contact with birth parents has consistently been identified as one of the most important issues for young people in care. However, there has been considerable debate with regards to the impact of maintaining direct contact with birth parents for looked after children and young people and a lack of robust research from the perspectives of young people themselves. As such, the aim of this study was to explore the ways in which young people are affected by contact and what factors impact this experience. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven care-experienced young people. The most appropriate method of analysis consistent with the aims of the study was `interpretative phenomenological analysis' (IPA) as this method is concerned with portraying and exploring the meanings and processes of individual perspectives. Three key themes emerged reflecting the children and young people’s experience of contact, their sense of disempowerment and their experience of attachment relationships. Overall findings show that contact with birth parents is an extremely emotional and distressing experience for looked after children regardless of the child’s desire for contact. The potential for damage is obvious and a key to reducing negative effects lies in empowering the child in the process and understanding something about their long term experience of attachment.
Keywords
Contact with Birth Parents, Looked After Children, Disempowerment, Attachment
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