In September 2020, Think Of Us led a team of seven researchers who conducted a study to understand the perspectives, attitudes, and experiences of young people with recent histories in institutional placements, and to understand their beliefs around reforming or ending institutional placements. The goal of this report is to share the stories and insights of youth with lived experience that surfaced during the study.
This study used two qualitative social research methods: interviews and cultural probes. The individual, semi-structured, in-depth interviews sought to get a full picture of young people's experiences before, during, and after institutional placements. These interviews also sought to elicit participants' perspectives on and attitudes towards institutional placements and their opinions about reform. Cultural probes are a research technique with open-ended activities given to participants to uncover the emotional and evocative thoughts young people associate with institutional placements.
Responses to cultural probes include poems, photographs, and visual art. In total, the study engaged 78 different participants who were between 18 and 25 years old: 22 young people in interviews alone, 41 in cultural probes alone, and 15 in both. The team ensured a wide representation of experiences in foster care among participants, including diversity among youth's perceived experience with their institutional placements.