Promoting resilience within child protection: the suitability of arts-based and experiential group programs for children in care

COHOLIC Diana, et al
Journal article citation:
Social Work with Groups, 35(4), 2012, pp.345-361.
Taylor and Francis
Place of publication:
Philadelphia, USA

Since 2006, child protection/welfare organisations in Ontario, Canada, have shifted emphases in their assessments of children and their families to a strengths-based approach focused on resilience and striving for positive outcomes. This article describes 2 convergent group programmes for children in care that aimed to develop resilience: the ECHO (Effective, Comprehensive, Holistic & Objective) Social Skills Program; and the Holistic Arts-Based Group Program (HAP). HAP and ECHO are preventative-type programmes that can accommodate children in care with differing abilities, offering a variety of learning opportunities. Both programmes reflect the focus on strengths-based approaches and resilience within child protection. They use arts-based and experiential methods to facilitate the learning of a variety of skills including social and coping skills, mindfulness, and emotional awareness. The article draws on children’s words from transcribed HAP group sessions and post-HAP individual interviews. Also included are results from programme evaluation questionnaires completed by 80 children who took part in ECHO. The findings show that the programmes were suitable and feasible and appeared to have benefits, could accommodate diversity, were cost effective, and could be facilitated by a wide variety of practitioners.

Subject terms:
strengths-based approach, looked after children, resilience, social skills, arts, child protection, groups, groupwork;
Content type:
practice example
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