Methods: A methodological framework (see Arskey & O’Malley, 2003) was followed to conduct this scoping review of 30 years of literature. Library databases (e.g.,PsycInfo, ERIC and Google Scholar) were used to identify relevant articles using key search terms (e.g., child welfare”,“normalcy”, “well-being” “resilience”, “extracurricular activities” and “social competence”). Articles were analyzed if they met specific inclusion criteria. Zotero was used to collate and organize articles. In addition, thematic analysis and key deductive indicators from sources were used to chart and summarize data and develop the conceptual definition and domains.
Results: Clear themes emerged from the existing conceptual and empirical literature. Normalcy is defined as youth’s participation in healthy, developmentally appropriate activities and their ability to understand and engage in socially appropriate behaviors and meaningful communication with the peers and adults in their lives. Youth voice was demonstrated to be a critically important. Four domains of normalcy were identified: youth’s participation in: 1.) Social and Cultural Activities, Life Skills/Learning Opportunities and/or Community Support Services; 2.) Home Environment including relationships with caregivers and siblings; 3.) School/Community including relationships with teachers and other adults; and 4.) Activities with Prosocial Peers.
Conclusions and Implications: Normalcy involves youth’s active participation in both activities and relationships; this participation is strongly associated with a host of well-being outcomes. The overall goal of this work is to move from (a) conceptualizing normalcy to (b) measuring normalcy over time to (c) identifying policies and practices that promote normalcy and intervening to improve normalcy and enhance overall well-being. A standard definition of normalcy has the potential to advance research, policy and practice. Operationalization of normalcy is currently underway using a multi-method, multi-informant longitudinal dataset. Relatively small actions (e.g., getting youth regularly involved in an extracurricular activity that they enjoy, and developing prosocial relationships with those peers and adults) can improve normalcy and enhance well-being for this vulnerable group. Presentation of findings will include a visual model with domain descriptions and examples.