Day, A-M, Clark, A and Hazel, N (2023) Hearing from justice-involved, care experienced children: what are their experiences of residential care environments and regimes? Journal of Children's Services, 18 (1). pp. 47-60. ISSN 1746-6660

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The disproportionate representation in juvenile justice systems of children who are, or have been, in the care of the state is a major cause of concern internationally. However, the experiences of this particular group are largely absent from both policy debates and the international research base. This paper aims to correct that deficit by exploring the lived experiences of residential care, justice-involved children.

An interpretivist investigation of care experienced children’s perceptions of their experiences, involving semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 19 children in England who were simultaneously in residential care and subject to youth justice supervision. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis.

Care-experienced children described how their experiences of residential care environments and regimes have undermined their sense of how they see themselves, now and looking to the future. Against this background of disrupted identity, they also reported stigmatising interactions with staff that leave them feeling labelled both as a generic “looked-after child” and as a “bad kid”.

Research limitations/implications
The findings are based on the perceptions of a group of children in the criminal justice system, which, although reflecting the experiences of those with negative outcomes, may not be representative of all children in residential care.

Practical implications
The findings have implications for those responsible for the care and development of care-experienced children, as well policymakers concerned with reducing the numbers of care-experienced children in youth justice. Those responsible for the care and development of care-experienced children should consider steps to reduce how factors outlined here disrupt a child’s sense of self and introduce criminogenic labelling and stigma.

Despite a number of studies seeking to understand why the number of care experienced children in the youth justice system is disproportionate, there is very little empirical work that seeks to understand the experiences and perceptions of children currently both in care and the criminal justice system. This paper seeks to correct this deficit, by detailing how children who are both in residential care and subject to youth justice supervision view their care experiences. The implications of this for policy, practice and further research are then explored.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article and all relevant information related to it, including copyrights, can be found on the publisher website.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Children in care; Looked-after child; Care-experienced children; Residential care; Juvenile offenders; Young offenders; Youth offenders; Youth justice
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 12:44
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2023 13:10

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