In this paper we examine the longer term outcomes of young people who experienced out of home care (OHC) as children, in Britain, Germany and Finland, countries characterised by different welfare regimes. While there is some evidence on immediate transitions after leaving care (up to age 21), there is less evidence on experiences around age 30, a phase of early adulthood. Drawing on existing longitudinal data for general population samples we focus on outcomes related to education, employment, family, health and receipt of welfare benefits for those who were ever in care and those who were not. We find evidence for continuing disadvantage regarding education and employment for those who were in care as children, but also indications of subjective wellbeing and commitment to family life – possibly a reflection of “normality” and efforts to “fit in” as parents. Surprisingly, despite variations in welfare system and differences in the scope and quality of available data, trends were similar in each of the countries, suggesting that none provide adequately for the needs of care experienced young adults. The findings point towards the need for a revised conceptualisation of the notion of “independence” which has to take into account the manifold and changing relationships between individuals and the state. Instead of a “cliff edge” approach there should be support for a more gradual shift from “dependence” to “independence” enabling those with care experience to develop their full potential. In interpreting the findings, limitations of the available data have to be acknowledged, pointing to the need for generating harmonised and longitudinal data on vulnerable subpopulations to enable effective monitoring of needs and provision.
Children and Youth Services Review – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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