Positive youth development is an approach to intervention that is designed to build upon youths’ strengths, provide opportunities to develop skills, foster healthy relationships, and promote a sense of belonging and contribution. Such approaches may have an outsized potential for youth in foster care, who in addition to maltreatment victimization also face foster care specific risks including familial separation, relational discontinuity, and impermanence. To explore the viability of positive youth development for youth in care, this observational study investigated whether participation in a camp-based reunification program for siblings separated by foster care called Camp To Belong influenced youth resilience, a critical protective mechanism for maltreated youth. Three-hundred and thirty-nine youth from eight camp locations in two countries completed pre-test post-test questionnaires, and hierarchical linear modeling procedures determined if youth, sibling group characteristics, and program experiences influenced changes in youth resilience. Findings suggest modest increases in resilience across all camp locations (Yoo =.47, SE =.03, p <.01), and the sibling group accounted for 13% of variance in this outcome (ρ =.13, SE =.08). Increases were particularly notable for girls (Y02 =.13, SE =.05, p <.05) and youth who reported a feeling of belonging in the program (Y02 =.51, SE =.05, p <.01). Higher baseline measures of sibling support however were associated with reductions in resilience at post-test (Y02 = −.19, SE =.05, p <.01). Results suggest brief, camp-based reunification may be a viable approach to intervention with siblings separated by foster care, although differences according to youth gender and baseline sibling support suggest additional research is needed.
- Foster care
- Positive youth development