The Pathways to Resilience Project is a multi-year (2007-2015), five country study associated with the Resilience Research Centre in Canada. The New Zealand project is based at Massey University led by Robyn Munford and Jackie Sanders from the School of Health & Social Services.
The study sought to better understand how youth navigate between mandated services (child welfare, alternative education, mental health, and youth justice) to successful outcomes. There was a particular interest in understanding the way that involvement with these services influences outcomes for youth exposed to large amounts of risk, who face complex challenges or who come to attention because of chronic abuse and neglect.
The study has identified the practice, services and strategies that are successful in assisting young people to achieve positive outcomes in their lives.
The study population was composed of three different groups drawn from six areas in New Zealand (the Auckland metropolitan area, Palmerston North/Manawatu, Kāpiti/Horowhenua, Greater Wellington, Christchurch and Otago during 2009-2010).
The services were: youth justice, child welfare, alternative or special education services or mental health services. These services could be provided by either a statutory organisation or an NGO providing services under contract to government.
MSU youth were recruited from organisations that provided formal support services to youth and CG youth were recruited from schools, community programmes and organisations located in the communities from which the MSU youth were drawn.
They were all aged 12-17, half Māori (48%), a third Pākehā (31%), one fifth Pacific (18%) and more than half male (63%). After being matched for age, gender and ethnicity they compromised two equal groups.
The two groups came from very different living situations, and had very different school and other service experiences.
Young people with higher risk tend to have inconsistent or negative service experiences.
Young people with higher resilience tend to have consistently positive service experiences.
The quality of interactions practitioners have with youth matter more to outcomes that the number of interventions. High quality relationships build resilience and this produces better outcomes. Relational practices that include genuine warmth, kindness and positive regard build capacity in young people. The more that services work in these ways with youth the better the outcome.
Specific practices that are important:
From the Pathways to Resilience research a model of effective practice has been identified - these are the aspects that the research identified made the difference for young people building their resilience and producing better outcomes.
P = Perseverance, Persistence and Perspective
A = Adaptability, Agency/Empowerment, Action-oriented
R = Relationships, Relevant, Responsive, Recognises context
T = Time, Transparency, Thresholds, Transitions
H = Honesty, Humility, Hope