Diversity in practice: a critical exploration of residential care practice with minoritized children & youth




Dean, Mackenzie

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Research shows that in Canada, there is an overrepresentation of minoritized/ marginalized children and youth living in residential care settings. These youth face structural barriers such as poverty, racialization, and gendered and sexual discrimination (among others) which result in their exclusion from mainstream notions of wellbeing and success, and their positioning as requiring professional help (Lavergn, Dufour, Trocme, & Larrivee, 2008). Literature on the topic of residential care demonstrates however that interventions facilitated in residential programs often fail to implicate social inequities as contributing factors to the need for professional involvement, or address these factors in the therapeutic context. Instead, interventions tend to focus on socio-psychological and behavioural functioning, with a desire to assist young people in “catching up” to a dominant standard of living that is taken for granted as “normal” and beneficial for them (Harley, Jolivette, McCormick, & Tice, 2002). It is unclear how these tensions are reconciled by CYC practitioners. By critically analyzing the discourses that inform “diversity” in CYC practice, this exploratory study investigates how practitioners who work in residential settings conceptualize and negotiate these contradictory representations and expectations of youth in care. The study is grounded in a transtheoretical framework drawn from feminist/post structural (Butler, 1990; Davies, 2000; Fendler, 2001; Foucault, 1977;1979), Indigenous and post-colonial (McIntosh, 1998; Tuhiwai Smith, 1999) and queer theories (Sedgwick, 1990; Marinucci, 2010) to position diversity within an intersectional analysis (Burman, 2003; 2004; Chantler, 2004; 2005). The study contributes to current understandings within the field of CYC about methods of care in relation to children/youth of diverse and/or marginalized backgrounds in residential care settings.



Child & Youth Care, Diversity, Minoritization, Residential Care