‘Different’ and ‘Devalued’: Managing the Stigma of Foster-Care with the Benefit of Peer Support

Rogers, Justin (2017). ‘Different’ and ‘Devalued’: Managing the Stigma of Foster-Care with the Benefit of Peer Support. The British Journal of Social Work, 47(4) pp. 1078–1093.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw063


This paper presents findings from a study that explored the experiences of young people living in foster-care in the UK. Previous research highlights that children and young people in foster-care experience stigma. Qualitative methods were chosen to explore how the young people in this study experience and manage stigma in their day-to-day lives. Findings provide valuable insights into how the participants cope with the challenges of stigma. There were two key ways they did this: (i) by carefully managing the disclosure of their ‘in-care’ status and (ii) by drawing support from their social relationships. Furthermore, the participants particularly valued support from their peers who were also living in foster-care, as it enabled them to form an in-group, which presented them with a valuable sense of belonging. These findings have implications for practice and this paper proposes two ways to better support young people in foster-care to cope with stigma: first, by valuing the importance of friendship groups and enabling young people to maintain their existing friendships and, second, by developing more opportunities that bring fostered young people together, which enables them to interact with their peers without the pressure of managing stigma.

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