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Empirical knowledge about sibling relationships of youth in foster care is scant. The purpose of this study was to explore sibling relationships of youth in foster care and begin to build a stronger understanding of the potential protective role these relationships can have for youth in an uncertain circumstance. Symbolic interaction was used as the theoretical lens for this mixed methods study. The sample consisted of children who are currently living in foster care and attended a five-day sibling enhancement camp, called Camp To Belong. The results indicated that sibling relationships could be a protective factor for youth in foster care. In a qualitative exploration of the meaning of sibling relationships of youth in foster care, youth reported that their sibling has a positive and protective role. Furthermore, youth reports of greater sibling warmth significantly predicted higher scores of individual resilience, a trait that is associated with overcoming adversity. Another aim of this study was to explore developmental differences of sibling relationships for those in foster care. The results of this study indicated that there were no significant differences between youth in middle childhood and adolescents in how they perceived their sibling relationship quality in terms of sibling warmth and sibling conflict. Lastly, youth in middle childhood and adolescence had a significant decrease in sibling conflict as a result of their participation in Camp To Belong. The results of this study have implications for research, clinical practice, and policy that are discussed.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Family and Child Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Lenore M. McWey, Professor Directing Dissertation; Kathryn H. Tillman, University Representative; Wayne Denton, Committee Member; Ann K. Mullis, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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