Resiliency among Aboriginal children in foster care in Quebec

Our cross-sectional descriptive study sought to determine the impact of cultural supports on the resiliency of Aboriginal children in foster care in Quebec. We hypothesized that Aboriginal youth’s increased access to culturally-appropriate settings while in foster care would be associated with higher scores on a measure of resiliency.

46 Aboriginal youth in out-of-home care were surveyed using the Child and Youth Resilience Measure-28 (CYRM-28). Findings from a regression analysis comparing scores of groups categorized by placement type indicate that children in an Aboriginal foster placement in the community with access to cultural services (type 1) have a resiliency score 38 points greater than the score for children with limited access to their community or cultural services (type 3). Children in a non-Aboriginal foster placement with some access to their community or cultural services (type 2) have a resiliency score 18 points greater than the score for children with limited access to their community or cultural services (type 3). These results support our hypothesis.

The study has some limitations. Results are not generalizable due to the small sample size (N=46). Selection bias may be a factor; this is highlighted by the over-representation of transgender and female respondents as compared with estimates of these subsamples within the Canadian population (Gates, 2011; Statistics Canada, 2010). Another limitation is the cross-sectional nature of the design; a longitudinal study would allow for a measurement of changes in the youth’s resilience levels over time. Our findings highlight the need for longitudinal research with Aboriginal youth in foster care to examine the outcomes of culturally continuous placement settings as well as the potential long-term benefits of cultural supports for these youth.


Gates, G.J. (2011). How mnay people are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender? UCLA: The Williams Institute. Retrieved from:

Statistics Canada, 2010. Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories: 2009 to 2036. Catalogue no.91-520-X. Ottawa, Ontario.

Fostered Aboriginal Youth and Ethnic Identity


Aboriginal youth are over-represented in the Canadian foster care system (Trocmé, Knoke & Blackstock, 2004; Fluke, Chabot, Fallon, MacLaurin & Blackstock, 2010) whilst aboriginal caregivers are under-represented (Brown, Ivanova, Mehta, Skrodzki & Rodgers, 2015). Our research project explored the impacts of being placed in kinship versus non-kinship homes on the ethnic identity of aboriginal foster children placed in early-childhood. This study hypothesized that being placed within a kinship home would be correlated to youth having stronger ethnic identity. Foster children, youth, and aboriginal youths’ positive attachment to their ethnic identities has been linked to increased physical and mental well-being (Gfellner & Armstrong, 2012; Moss, 2009; Corenblum, 2014; Jones & Galliher, 2007). Consequently, facilitating the organic development of ethnic identity is an important policy-goal for youth protection agencies.


Using the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) (Phinney, 1992), our study tested 43 aboriginal adolescents who had been placed in foster homes during their early-childhood. Our results suggest that being placed with a kinship foster-parent is correlated with: aboriginal caregiver ethnicity, fewer moves between foster homes, and longer-lasting placements. Kinship-care and its correlates were all associated with higher ethnic identity scores, particularly for the MEIM sub-category of ‘exploration.’ Indeed, fewer moves remained significant in a multi-variate model. These results underline the effectiveness of kinship foster placement. In addition, they suggest that further exploration of the factors that facilitate stability and longevity in kinship-care foster homes will be important in developing foster placement policies and best practices. This is especially true for policies that intend to contribute to aboriginal youths’ sense of ethnic identity and thus wellbeing.


Brown, J. D., Sintzel, J., George, N., & St Arnault, D. (2010). Benefits of transcultural fostering. Child & Family Social Work, 15(3), 276-285.


Corenblum, B. (January 01, 2014). Development of racial-ethnic identity among First Nation children. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 3, 356-74.


Fluke, J., Chabot, M., Fallon, B., MacLaurin, B. & Blackstock, C. (2010). Placement decisions and disparities among aboriginal groups: an application of the decision

making ecology through multi-level analysis.Child Abuse & Neglect, 34, 57-69. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.08.009.


Gfellner, B. M., & Armstrong, H. D. (2012). Ego development, ego strengths, and ethnic identity among First Nation adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence22(2), 225-234.


Jones, M. D., & Galliher, R. V. (2007). Ethnic identity and psychosocial functioning in Navajo adolescents.Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17(4), 683–696.


Moss, M. (August 01, 2009). Broken circles to a different identity: an exploration of identity for children in out-of-home care in Queensland, Australia. Child & Family Social Work, 14(3), 311-321.


Phinney, J. S. (1992). The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure: A new scale for use with diverse groups. Journal of Adolescent Research, 7(2), 156–176.


Trocmé, N, Knoke, D & Blackstock, C. (2004). Pathways to the Overrepresentation of  Aboriginal Children in Canada’s Child Welfare System. Social Service Review, 78(4): 577-600.




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