Aims Children and young people who are Looked After have typically experienced significant adversity, with follow up demonstrating poorer social and developmental outcomes than their peers. However, risk factors are not the only predictor of outcomes. Attention is increasingly being focussed on promotion of resilience. There are multiple factors associated with improved resilience. Recurring themes for adolescents include (i) positive relationships with primary carers and with adults outside the family unit; (ii) positive experience of education; (iii) strong social networks, including participation in extra-curricular activities. Here we review the presence of these resilience factors amongst young people in our area.
Methods A questionnaire survey of Looked After young people aged 12–15 years was carried out in 2013. This covered various aspects of home and school life, as well as questions about physical and emotional well-being. Questionnaires were completed by young people either alone or with the support of their school nurse. Out of 84 young people eligible, opportunistic sampling resulted in 38 responses.
Results (i) Adult relationships: 95% reported that the people looking after them really cared about them, with 89% able to talk to a parent/carer about their worries. 79% felt able to talk to an adult who was not their parent/carer. 86% felt they were taken seriously most of the time.
(ii) Education: 58% agreed they liked being at school, with 66% thinking they were doing well at school. 98% described feeling quite/very safe at school and only 8% reported bullying within the last year.
(iii) Social networks: All reported having one or more good friends, although only 82% could talk to friends about their worries. 71% had taken part in structured extra-curricular activities recently, but 24% reported there were activities they would like to do but had no opportunity.
Conclusions This survey demonstrates high levels of certain positive resilience factors within our Looked After young people across the three highlighted areas. However, areas for improvement have been identified, including that all young people should have an adult in whom they can confide, and that experience of education is not always a positive one.
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