Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Awarded the Peder Sather Grant

NEW PROJECT: Marit Skivenes and Jill D. Berrick are awarded a research grant to study cross-national experiences of foster care youth.

The Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study supports projects carried out by researchers at UC Berkeley in collaboration with researchers from Norwegian universities. The title of Skivenes’ and Berrick’s project is “Cross-national experiences of foster care: Does the welfare state matter?”.

The aim is to explores the differences between Norwegian and US welfare state ideologies, focusing specifically on child protection. The study will examine if or how these welfare state ideologies are reflected in the daily experiences of foster youth.

– The state’s responsibility and the welfare state provisions for families and foster families are quite different in the US and Norway. In this study, we aim to explore the characteristics of foster care that promote positive transitions from childhood to adulthood in these two country contexts, explains Skivenes.

Youths as co-researchers

The project is unique in that it includes a cross-national perspective on foster youth experiences, and also includes former foster youth as principal staff in the design and conduct of the study.

Drawing on the voices of “experts by experience” – former foster youth who are engaged in a positive transition to adulthood – the project aim to explore if and how the differences between Norwegian and US welfare ideologies are experienced by youth during their stay in care.

In the US, the participants will come from the Berkeley Hope Scholars (BHS), a program is designed for former foster youth. In Norway, Forandringsfabrikken (“the “Change Factory”) with the local “Experts by Experience” group in Bergen, will contribute.

Learning exchange

– We are  looking forward to work with and learn from the former foster youths. A highlight of the project will be a 3-day “Learning Exchange” in Bergen with the group from the US and Norway, says Skivenes. Of course, pending travel restrictions due to Covid-19.

The ambition is that the student researchers will gain experience as qualitative researchers, develop new skills and networks with others.

– We hope to inspire some to consider research, policy engagement, or graduate studies as they mature, says Skivenes.

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