Changing the Narrative is a youth-initiated effort to identify implicit bias toward youth and alumni of foster care (YAFC) and to redress it within the education and social services sectors. Results from a survey distributed to a representative sample of the general public in Los Angeles County (N=2488) confirmed both that the public has negative expectations for the outcomes of YAFC and that these negative stereotypes are inaccurately exemplified in the media portrayals of YAFC. Analyses determined that variation in public perception can be connected to age, gender, ethnicity, personal experience in foster care, and professional experience with YAFC. As the majority of the sample had few direct experiences with YAFC, perceptions were primarily formed based on the portrayals of YAFC in the media. The portrayals selected most often were criminals, victims, and survivors. This research highlights a distressing cycle that begins with social service professionals, foster parents, and teachers who are influenced by the media to perceive children and youth in foster care as deficient, thereby creating a negative set of expectations that are met as the children cope with early trauma and, thus reinforce the negative stereotypes. Therefore, the next steps are for educators to develop a curriculum that increases awareness and changes the narrative to a strengths-based perspective of youth in foster care.
Leslie Ponciano, California State University: Office of the Chancellor, United States
Akin Abioye, Liberty Hill Foundation, United States
Zaid Gayle, Peace4Kids, United States
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