This paper will focus on several aspects of the protective and risk factors that contribute to resilience for those youth who have or are in jeopardy of entering the Child Welfare System from being in similar circumstances as Alfonso Torres. Alfonso's case is one the many depicted in the book On their own: What happens to kids when they age out of the Foster Care System? by Martha Shirk and Gary Strangler. This case ignited an emotional swell within me, making it challenging to contain ones emotions as I read and took note of the identifying issues I would later need to address.
One is compelled to define the terms risk and protective factors along with resilience to be used throughout this discussion towards gaining a generalized understanding for the purpose to which this paper is intended. Pecora (2009) states in order to properly address child maltreatment one should address the situation from a multi-level stance. These levels should include: the individual (How did he/she come into existence?), community environment (What are its characteristics?), and cultural aspects (What is his/her cultural makeup?) to gain a clear understanding of the situation and circumstances (DePanfilis, 2006).
According to Pecora (2009) risk factors are the conditions that would make a child from a particular population or group more vulnerable to maltreatment than another child from the same population or group. DePanfilis (2006) makes a point to note that it is the collective amount of risk factors revolving around a child's early socio and cognitive development that will likely produce issues. Protective factors are the precautionary measures put in place to offset the conditions that may potentially create maltreatment. Resilience is recognized as a parallel of protective factors. Meaning, resilience is the act of how well one handles or adapts to a challenging or adverse situation or condition (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, Barth, DePanfilis, & Plotnick, 2009).