Transition to adult life of young people leaving foster care : A qualitative systematic review
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CitationHäggman-Laitila, Arja. Salokekkilä, Pirkko. Kärki, Suyen. (2018). Transition to adult life of young people leaving foster care : A qualitative systematic review. Children and youth services review, 95, 134-14. 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.08.017.
The transition to adult life of looked-after young people depends on a combination and interaction of multiple contributing factors such as past experiences, challenges faced by the young people in their current life situation, the support they have received and their personal strengths. Several reviews and studies have reported of poor outcomes for care leavers and indicate that this is a worldwide phenomenon. A lower level of support in the transition process increases the risk for social exclusion, homelessness, unemployment, low education, financial difficulties and behavioral problems. The aim of this review was to gather, assess and synthesize the current empirical evidence of transition to adult life from the perspective of young people leaving foster care. A systematic review was conducted in six scientific databases to identify relevant qualitative studies published from 2010 to 2017, and 21 studies met the inclusion criteria. The quality of the included studies was evaluated using the checklist for qualitative studies of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (2017). Data were analyzed using a narrative method. Care leavers had two views of their transition to adult life. The views differed clearly based on the care leavers' experiences of their capabilities, emotions and identity. The care leaving process was described as an unprepared and unfocused process which provided the care leavers no opportunities for participating in the decision-making concerning their future. The young people had acquired few survival skills for independent living in aftercare. Care leavers often lacked the support of family members, former care providers and institutional bodies. The challenges young people often faced during the transition to independent living were concerned with academic qualifications, housing problems, employment and financial instability, building relationships and assimilating to cultural norms, and access to health care. The results of the review can be utilized in the development of services and in designing future studies.