It has been well established that significant numbers of youth who age out of foster homes, group homes, and residential facilities and leave to live on their own are overrepresented in adult psychiatric facilities, prisons, and among the homeless. In addition, most suffer from poor health, do not finish school, and have difficulty securing gainful employment. Most problematic is that little is understood about how to intervene with this disadvantaged population in its transition to adulthood. It is clear that attaining age of majority has little to do with maturity, yet the reality remains that the care system must graduate these young people, many of whom have nowhere to go but on their own. This volume represents a valuable step forward in acknowledging the current situation and offering effective ways to meet the challenges of the future.
This is the 113th volume of the Jossey–Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Youth Development.
1. Youth leaving care: How do they fare? (Anne Tweddle)
This chapter provides an overview of recent international research examining outcomes for youth after they age out of the child welfare system. It outlines recommendations for changes to practices and policies in facilitating the transition to independence.
2. The transition from state care to adulthood: International examples of best practices (Carrie Reid)
In order for youth to be prepared for the transition to adulthood, they must have key areas of their lives addressed: relationships, education, housing, life skills, identity, youth engagement, emotional healing, and adequate financial support. Successful and innovative programs for transition–aged youth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia are highlighted.
3. The role of housing in the transition process of youth and young adults: A twenty–year perspective (Mark J. Kroner)
Lighthouse Youth Services is a large housing–based independent living preparation program that has served over thirteen hundred youth and their children since 1986. This chapter describes housing options and basic program strategies, common problems, funding issues, and general outcomes for youth. The system characteristics necessary to make a program work are outlined, as well as key lessons learned.
4. Transition without status: The experience of youth leaving care without Canadian citizenship (Francis G. Hare)
Youth in transition from care sometimes lack legal status or citizenship. This may occur when a child arrived from another country alone or arrived with a family but was taken into care before status issues were resolved. The chapter examines the dimensions of this issue and the ways in which youth, service providers, and others have been working to minimize the numbers of young people who leave care without citizenship status.
5. Promoting autonomous functioning among youth in care: A program evaluation (Martin Goyette)
This chapter describes a provincially funded program in Quebec that incorporates elements unique in the local child welfare system and preliminary findings on its impact. The program targets youth sixteen years of age and older who have had little family support, have exhibited high–risk behaviors, and are in the transition to independent living.
6. Juvenile offenders and independent living: An Irish perspective on program development with St. Xavier s (Niall McElwee, Michael O Connor, Susan McKenna)
The chapter views a specific population within the Irish social care system and draws from the authors collective experience in relation to young offenders leaving care. Effective program development for youth leaving care for independent living is considered crucial to potential long–term success and permeates all good practice.
7. The Scottish perspective: A pathway to progress? (Jeremy Millar)
This chapter offers insight into the impact of reforms in terms of both direct work with care leavers in the northeast of Scotland and the broader aspirations of the new legislative framework. The author describes how the historical context that links Scotland to the Commonwealth (in terms of former approaches to practice and societal and demographic changes) have influenced practice and policymaking in this area.
8. Using youth expertise at all levels: The essential resource for effective child welfare practice (Kathi M. Crowe)
Engaging youth as resources in all levels of child welfare work not only represents best practice, it is an essential ingredient to effective work. This chapter explores the benefits of drawing on youth expertise at both the micro and macro levels. The respect inherent in this inclusion assists the development of a stronger bond between staff and youth and results in more effective policies, programs, and services. The specific impact on the transition to independent living is discussed.
Afterword: Aging out of care Toward realizing the possibilities of emerging adulthood (Jeffrey Jensen Arnett).