Storying relationships and self: How family, friends, and caseworkers matter in out-of-home care

Leaving care
Thursday 26 July, 1300 – 1320


Associate Professor Kylie Valentine
Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Of all the things that matter to children and families affected by the child protection system, relationships may matter the most. We know that relationships with trusted professionals, as well as family members, can make a difference to the outcomes of children in out-of-home care (OOHC), their carers, and their parents. Less attention has been paid, however, to the ways that children and young people in OOHC narrate their relationships and construct a sense of self as both relational and autonomous.

This paper draws on a large qualitative project exploring biographical narratives of young people in contact with multiple service systems, including child protection and OOHC. Its focus is on how children and young people draw on resources from family, institutions such as schools, and support services, and on the importance of stories and story-telling to their relationships with services and support. This paper reports on the narratives of children and young people in OOHC and develops an analytic approach to conceptualising familial and professional relationships.