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Where do i belong? Perspectives of young people placed into care

Dr Sarah Wendland
University College London

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We all have a need and desire to belong, this is fundamental to humans and can be fulfilled within different settings, environments and people. The most common and typically first place to develop belonging is within our families. This then extends to places beyond our immediate environment such as school. If we do not have a sense of belonging then it is argued that we can become vulnerable as one of our needs are not being fully met.

The literature review examines ten papers for factors which support a sense of belonging in school settings. The findings were meta-aggregated into four sub themes of safety, teaching, school environment/ethos and relationships. The sub themes feed into two overarching themes of being known and caring. Differences between participants are explored and practice implications discussed.

It is widely accepted that children and young people in care are one of our most vulnerable populations. Many experience instability through multiple placements and school changes. They are more likely to under-perform academically and leave school with few or no qualifications. The empirical paper sought to add to the limited research for young people in care and explores two young people’s experiences of the transition into care and the support they received. Both participants took part in semi-structured interviews and the transcripts were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Individual analysis of each participant was conducted followed by cross case analysis.

Four main super-ordinate themes emerged of the impact of being in care, supportive factors/needs, impact of support and time. Each super-ordinate theme incorporated several subordinate themes. Implications for future practice and research are discussed with dissemination plans outlined.

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