29 August 2018

Supporting young people leaving out-of-home care

This article examines the challenges faced by young people transitioning from out-of-home care. The author notes that the transition from adolescence to adulthood is a significant social and developmental stage as well as a period of substantial brain development. For young people leaving care, they face this transition without the same social support or family safety net systems as their peers. Experiences of early trauma and abuse or mental health problems can place these young people at a disadvantage during their transition to adulthood and independence. Stability of care and emotional security experienced during their time in care are significant predictors of young people’s outcomes. Worryingly, evidence suggests that those who have been in residential care are particularly vulnerable as this type of care does not seem to meet the needs of these vulnerable children and may also exacerbate their trauma. Research suggests the leaving care transition needs to be flexible, gradual and well planned by providing individual transition planning based on the young person’s needs, flexible post-care options and ongoing emotional and financial support until young people reach 25 years of age. Housing and homelessness are also recognised as significant issues for young people leaving care.