Abstract: Enhancing Resilience Among Youth in Care: A Conceptual Explanatory Model (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

Enhancing Resilience Among Youth in Care: A Conceptual Explanatory Model

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Talia Meital Schwartz Tayri, PhD, Post-doctoral researcher, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Yafit Sulimani- Aidan, PhD, A professor at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Background and Purpose:

Resilience is increasingly recognized as an important facet of a holistic understanding of children and youth who experience adversity. Resilience refers to achieving positive outcomes despite challenging circumstances, coping successfully with traumatic experiences, and avoiding negative paths linked with risks. Therefore, it is a useful framework for empirical research to understand what helps youth in residential care with a history of abuse and neglect to better adapt to diverse challenges and difficulties. Our study explored the protective factors and the psychosocial mechanisms that play a role in enhancing the resilience of youth in care, by testing an innovative theoretical model that takes into account both psychological (life skills and hope) and environmental factors (mentoring relationships and sense of belonging to care facility).


We employed a cross-sectional design using self-reported questionnaires. The study sample was extracted from a larger sample and included 213 adolescences who had a mentoring relationship prior or in time of the study and lived in residential care placements: 39% in therapeutic residential care facilities, 32% in youth villages, and 28.4% in group-homes. Resilience, as the outcome latent variable, was assessed by two protective factors: hope as cognitive-emotional dimension (α =.80) and life skills as practical dimension (α =.90). Mentoring relationships (latent) were measured by four factors: mentor as a role model (α =.72), parent figure (α =.84), autonomy promoter (α =.82), and promoter of academics and career (α =.83). Sense of belonging to the care placement (α = .88) was measured by three factors: Identification and participation in the care setting (α = .77), perception of fitting in among peers (α =.70), and generalized connection to care staff (α =.72).


The study variables were significantly and positively correlated. Fit indices of the theoretical model indicated that the model: Chi-square = 25.82, df= 24, p =.362, CFI = .99, NFI =.98, TLI=.99, RMSEA=.019, was an excellent representation of the data, and that predictors explained 36% of the variance in resilience. CFA estimates indicate a strong relationship among the observed and latent variables. Bootstrap analysis (p<.005, confidence intervals that do not include 0) showed that sense of belonging to the care placement fully mediated the effect of mentoring relationship on youth's resilience (readiness .24., CI: .06~.23; hope .23, CI:.21 ~.62).

Conclusions and Implications:

Our research model reveals the mechanism through which supportive relationships facilitate resilience among at risk youth in care, both in terms of perceptions and behaviors. The interaction of two environmental factors, mentoring relationships and sense of belonging, operates as resilience enablers. In terms of practice, one of the findings recommendation is to increase the strategies to strengthen the sense of belonging of youth in care and to focus on emotional and behavioral aspects ahead of leaving care in order to promote future personal development.