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In Hawaii: Building networks of support for foster youth

The informative blog kept up by the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (@NE_Children) recently shared a video produced by the Epic Ohana organization about initiatives being undertaken in Hawaii to support youth in their foster care system (watch film below).

The video centers on the idea of social capital, which has been illustrated in the form of four vignettes that correspond to each of the four colored puzzles pieces: Family, School, Community, and Peers.


Social capital is a concept that has its roots in social theory, largely associated  in social sciences with the musings and writings of Pierre Bourdieu, and plays on the economic definitions of capital, or simply: assets, wherein different assets can gain you varied access (and thus power) in a given situation or circumstance. Social capital, therefore, calls attention to the (varying) value embedded in the social networks with which we are associated. (And for those social capital scholars out there, this is, of course, a gross oversimplification.)

Epic Ohana’s short film highlights the importance of increasing and strengthening the social networks of foster youth so that their family, community, peer, and school networks are not waning but rather are robust and reliable sources of capital: human capital, cultural capital, etc.

What is always most compelling to me, however, is the simultaneous awareness of youth of the significance of the social networks they belong to for their own sense of self and the oftentimes inability to know how to leverage the tremendous assets found in those social networks to sustain their future trajectories. I suspect part of the reason for the latter is that for too long young people’s social networks have been vilified rather than seen as a source of strength or as rich wells of what Luis Moll, Norma Gonzalez, and others have long referred to as “funds of knowledge.”

But that’s enough chatter — you probably just want to watch the video (just over 9 minutes long, and full of young people’s voices — not one of those talking head films):



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