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Message ID: 8691
Date: 2010-11-09

Author:Rauktis, Mary E Murphy

Subject:RE: developmental tasks, adolescence and out of home care

Sheri, thanks for your very thoughtful response. I agree with you about step down. There is very little if no research about “step down”. I read one qualitative study that discussed it—the youth were not able to see the difference between the two settings (the more restrictive setting and the step down setting). But I don’t think that much has been done to determine why a decision to “step down” is made, and the differences in the settings in terms of what youth can do, where they can go, who they can be in contact with. In the data that I am analyzing now, and in previous data, youth talked about relationships with staff and staff with youth. Youth do seek out staff and they are very clear about the characteristics and behaviors that the adults have that help to build relationships. You are right, they won’t go to the conformists and the rule challenging staff either leave or are fired. The problem that I am facing now in writing up these results is that the theories are based on youth/parent dyads. While youth may seek out staff who have “parental” capacities, these are not parents. Youth may also develop relationship with foster parents but these individuals are not always free to act fully as parents, since the state has the full parental oversight. So how do I talk about the development of autonomy when these are not parent/youth dyads? I’m trying to locate these findings within the theoretical framework and I’m not having much luck. I’ll let you know what I find out. So far, I’ve gotten a lot of “good luck” and “great question” answers! Mary E Rauktis Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Child Welfare Education and Research Program office 412.648.1225 personal 412 716 9061 fax 412.624.1159 mar104@pitt.edu www.socialwork.pitt.edu From: bounce-7287678-14235796@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-7287678-14235796@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of D F MCMAHON Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 10:53 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: RE: developmental tasks, adolescence and out of home care I applaud you for looking in this direction and will be interested in what you learn. Some immediate thoughts: the experience is going to depend in part on length and type of placement as well as characteristics (random characteristics) of the specific placement. But some commonalities: there is simply less room for exercising autonomy since systems require certain formal policies to be in place. Given many situations in which a parent has discretion to respond to varying degrees or not at all, there is less discretion. In particular, this means referral to authorities is practically a given for some kinds of conduct even if referral would be much less likely if the child were not in out of home placement. Emphasis on structure for high-needs adolescence easily develops into institutional dependency. Incidentally, one comment on that: "step-down" placements for youth exiting group care facilities is commonly accepted as standard practice, but I haven't found any research in that area (and when I asked the list about this a couple of years ago, nobody had any information). (My own thought was that "step-down" placements are, in fact, placement changes which require an additional process of adjustment and separation and might function as a barrier to reunification. Also, placement in residential/group care settings typically means a child is uprooted geographically, and step-down placement usually means specialized foster home--therapeutic foster home, and availability--or rather lack thereof--typically means yet another geographic change, so a seamless "step down" process is usually not possible). Something else to chew on: in group care settings, relationships with staff certainly play into the experience. Which staff do youth tend to seek out and bond with, given that there's going to be a continuum from "deviance" to "conformity" among staff themselves? (The rule-breakers get fired; the absolute conformists are probably not especially liked by most residents; in between those margins individual residents likely gravitate to particular staff). How do those relationships mesh with developing autonomy? Sheri mcmahon ND ________________________________ From: mar104@pitt.edu To: child-maltreatment-research-l@cornell.edu Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 08:36:54 -0500 Subject: developmental tasks, adolescence and out of home care Dear fellow CMR listserve members: I have been analyzing data from a qualitative study of youth in out of home care and their conceptualization of restriction of living environment. In order to better understand the findings, I have been reading about behavioral autonomy as a fundamental critical task for adolescents. However, theories of adolescent development and critical tasks seem to have been based on adolescents who have NOT been in out of home care for any length of time. The experience of children and adolescents who had been or are in out of home care is different and the theories are applicable in most aspects : however, I wonder if this experience impacts how and when youth achieve developmental milestones and manage the tasks? I've been reading Laurence Steinberg's work on "typical" adolescent development of autonomy but I’m not having much luck in finding other research that includes youth who have experienced out of home care. I’d appreciate any assistance in pointing me towards studies or if you are aware of individuals who are doing research to confirm or revise the theory about the critical developmental tasks in adolescence taking into account periods of out of home care. Any thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated. In addition, feel free to tell me that I’m barking up the wrong theoretical tree. Thanks in advance, Sincerely, Mary Beth Rauktis Mary Beth Rauktis Ph.D. Child welfare training and research program The University of Pittsburgh 2326 Cathedral of Learning Pittsburgh PA 15260 412 648 1225 Mar104@pitt.edu Mary E Rauktis Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Child Welfare Education and Research Program office 412.648.1225 personal 412 716 9061 fax 412.624.1159 mar104@pitt.edu www.socialwork.pitt.edu

Sheri, thanks for your very thoughtful response. I agree with you about step down. There is very little if no research about “step down”. I read one qualitative study that discussed it—the youth were not able to see the difference between the two settings (the more restrictive setting and the step down setting). But I don’t think that much has been done to determine why a decision to “step down” is made, and the differences in the settings in terms of what youth can do, where they can go, who they can be in contact with. In the data that I am analyzing now, and in previous data, youth talked about relationships with staff and staff with youth. Youth do seek out staff and they are very clear about the characteristics and behaviors that the adults have that help to build relationships. You are right, they won’t go to the conformists and the rule challenging staff either leave or are fired. The problem that I am facing now in writing up these results is that the theories are based on youth/parent dyads. While youth may seek out staff who have “parental” capacities, these are not parents. Youth may also develop relationship with foster parents but these individuals are not always free to act fully as parents, since the state has the full parental oversight. So how do I talk about the development of autonomy when these are not parent/youth dyads? I’m trying to locate these findings within the theoretical framework and I’m not having much luck. I’ll let you know what I find out. So far, I’ve gotten a lot of “good luck” and “great question” answers! Mary E Rauktis Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Child Welfare Education and Research Program office 412.648.1225 personal 412 716 9061 fax 412.624.1159 mar104pitt.edu www.socialwork.pitt.edu From: bounce-7287678-14235796list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-7287678-14235796list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of D F MCMAHON Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 10:53 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: RE: developmental tasks, adolescence and out of home care I applaud you for looking in this direction and will be interested in what you learn. Some immediate thoughts: the experience is going to depend in part on length and type of placement as well as characteristics (random characteristics) of the specific placement. But some commonalities: there is simply less room for exercising autonomy since systems require certain formal policies to be in place. Given many situations in which a parent has discretion to respond to varying degrees or not at all, there is less discretion. In particular, this means referral to authorities is practically a given for some kinds of conduct even if referral would be much less likely if the child were not in out of home placement. Emphasis on structure for high-needs adolescence easily develops into institutional dependency. Incidentally, one comment on that: "step-down" placements for youth exiting group care facilities is commonly accepted as standard practice, but I haven't found any research in that area (and when I asked the list about this a couple of years ago, nobody had any information). (My own thought was that "step-down" placements are, in fact, placement changes which require an additional process of adjustment and separation and might function as a barrier to reunification. Also, placement in residential/group care settings typically means a child is uprooted geographically, and step-down placement usually means specialized foster home--therapeutic foster home, and availability--or rather lack thereof--typically means yet another geographic change, so a seamless "step down" process is usually not possible). Something else to chew on: in group care settings, relationships with staff certainly play into the experience. Which staff do youth tend to seek out and bond with, given that there's going to be a continuum from "deviance" to "conformity" among staff themselves? (The rule-breakers get fired; the absolute conformists are probably not especially liked by most residents; in between those margins individual residents likely gravitate to particular staff). How do those relationships mesh with developing autonomy? Sheri mcmahon ND ________________________________ From: mar104pitt.edu To: child-maltreatment-research-lcornell.edu Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 08:36:54 -0500 Subject: developmental tasks, adolescence and out of home care Dear fellow CMR listserve members: I have been analyzing data from a qualitative study of youth in out of home care and their conceptualization of restriction of living environment. In order to better understand the findings, I have been reading about behavioral autonomy as a fundamental critical task for adolescents. However, theories of adolescent development and critical tasks seem to have been based on adolescents who have NOT been in out of home care for any length of time. The experience of children and adolescents who had been or are in out of home care is different and the theories are applicable in most aspects : however, I wonder if this experience impacts how and when youth achieve developmental milestones and manage the tasks? I've been reading Laurence Steinberg's work on "typical" adolescent development of autonomy but I’m not having much luck in finding other research that includes youth who have experienced out of home care. I’d appreciate any assistance in pointing me towards studies or if you are aware of individuals who are doing research to confirm or revise the theory about the critical developmental tasks in adolescence taking into account periods of out of home care. Any thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated. In addition, feel free to tell me that I’m barking up the wrong theoretical tree. Thanks in advance, Sincerely, Mary Beth Rauktis Mary Beth Rauktis Ph.D. Child welfare training and research program The University of Pittsburgh 2326 Cathedral of Learning Pittsburgh PA 15260 412 648 1225 Mar104pitt.edu Mary E Rauktis Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Child Welfare Education and Research Program office 412.648.1225 personal 412 716 9061 fax 412.624.1159 mar104pitt.edu www.socialwork.pitt.edu