Children Without A Voice
A blog inspired by The voices of youth in foster care: A participant action research study.; Ponciano, Leslie DEC 2013 Vol.11, Issue 4.
428,000 children are in foster care today. Despite their numbers, these children rarely have a voice, due to their status as minors within an already marginalized group. In the article, The voices of youth in foster care: A participant action research study, the researchers present a participatory action research study that seeks to give voice to these children by allowing them to participate in the creation of the research design and data collection surveys as part of a research study to determine how to improve the experiences and conditions within the foster care system. In doing so, the researchers break down obstacles and build confidence with the children.
For example, the research assistants that were used to execute the interviews were all children who had graduated out of the foster care system, which allowed for a sense of credibility and trust between the research assistants and the children still in foster care.
This article was of particular interest to me as my family is in the process of fostering a child. The article demonstrates a clear methodology and has a thorough discussion of the outcomes. This appealed to me because it allowed me to better understand participatory action research in a more fundamental way. The article was also forthright about the lead researcher’s bias and connection to the at-risk population prior to the study, and the limitations that were observed after the completion of the study. This was important because it provided a basis for credibility as the researcher was willing to expose their limitations.
Overall, I found this to be an interesting read about a very interesting subject with an altruistic foundation of helping one of the most marginalized groups in our society, children within the foster care system. The study and the article go beyond typical research in their direct attempt to give a voice to what has otherwise been a silent collective.
It does however raise the question of how to make this type of study more prolific in child protective service organizations? In business we talk about the importance of the voice of the customer and how that is the single best way to improve service. In this case the customers in the foster care system are the children. It would seem this study shows that they are willing and eager to provide their feedback and that there is fertile ground to harvest rich ideas to improve the conditions of the foster care system.
I enjoyed this article and learning more about the children that are in the foster care system. It provided an understanding about something that may very soon have a direct impact in my life.