Finding a sense of belonging in the absence of family

Kelly-Ann Allen, Emily Berger, Tim Campbell, Margaret U'Ren, Michelle L. Andrews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Families can be a source of connection, support and a sense of belonging for many people. However, this is not the case for all people, and youth without families in particular may find connection and belonging elsewhere. This chapter explores how youth conceptualise and experience belonging in the absence of the traditional family. It focuses on the experiences of young people who reside or who have previously resided in out of home care (OOHC), many of whom have experienced early life trauma and neglect. Unstable placements and the stigma associated with living in OOHC can impede their chance to establish and maintain relationships. In order to nurture their sense of belonging and consequently improve their overall wellbeing, it is important for youth in OOHC to establish secure attachments with care givers and preserve connection with their birth family, when possible, which forms a central argument of this chapter backed by research. As such, this chapter provides detailed recommendations for improving policies and practices to foster belonging among youth in OOHC. Moreover, the information shared in this chapter has implications for future research and interventions related to belonging, and the health and wellbeing of vulnerable population.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYouth Without Family to Lean On
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Challenges and Local Interventions
EditorsMoshe Israelasvili, Shula Mozes
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003124849
ISBN (Print)9780367645076, 9780367645038
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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