“We Don’t Feel That Love”: Retrospective Reflections on the Experiences of Removal, Transitions and Trauma from Former Youth in Care




Scott, Angela

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Knowledge and understanding of how the experiences of trauma are linked to removal and transitions into and through the out-of-home care system is quite limited. To address this gap in knowledge, this study explored the retrospective reflections of 20 former youth in care, between the ages of 19-24 years, within the geographical region of Lower Vancouver Island, BC in relation to the following research questions: What are the children and youth’s retrospective reflections about what was difficult, helpful, traumatizing or supportive? How do we manage transitions in a way that does not further traumatize and harm? Are there transition practices that enhance the likelihood of success? To answer these questions, this study carried out semi-structured interviews and conducted a review of the North American and international literature on removal and transition practices in child welfare. Data gathering and analysis were guided by a grounded theory approach. What emerged from attending to the voices of the youth regarding their experiences of removal, transitions and trauma was a communal or common narrative that allowed the researchers to identify five key psycho-social processes (Not Knowing, Loss or Absence of Belonging, Relational Fragmenting, De-forming Identity and Dis-spiriting) that contribute to an overall sense of ‘Not Feeling That Love’ - love that is learned and developed through deep, caring connections with others, especially adult carers. The findings of this exploratory study and the suggestions provided by the youth have several implications for policy, practice and further research to address, support, and mitigate the loss, grief, pain, and trauma frequently experienced through removal and transitions into and through the child welfare system.


Master's research project


Removal, Transitions, Trauma, BC Child Welfare, Love