Date of Conferral
Dr. Eric Youn
Thousands of youth exit Ontario's Child Welfare System (CWS) each year and perform poorly after returning to the community. However, understanding African Canadian youths' perspectives about their experiences and needs was problematic because no outcome data was available in the Canadian database. Using a phenomenological design grounded in a constructivist framework, the purpose of this study was to explore the meaning(s) that African Canadian youth ascribed to positive outcomes on exiting the CWS. A purposeful sample included 10 participants (6 females and 4 males, ranging in age from 19-24). The data collection method was face-to-face interviews with hand coding used to transcribe the data. Inductive analysis of themes and member checking ensured the trustworthiness of the interpretations. The 9 resulting themes related to concerns about their stay in care, as well as readiness for exiting CWS successfully: in-care instability (multiple foster homes and changes), unpreparedness for the transition, counselling/lack of counselling, behavioral management, education, maintaining motivation homelessness, shelter living, extended care connections, Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM), and Youth Voice in decision making. These themes represented issues that African Canadian youth believed would improve transitioning from CWS to independent living, particularly in negotiating community connections and resources. Social change can occur when policy makers and stakeholders acknowledge the problems and special needs of these youth by implementing the resources, services, and supportive programs to assure continuity of care and more successful outcomes.