Young People's Preparedness for Adult Life and Coping After Foster Care: A Systematic Review of Perceptions and Experiences in the Transition Period
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CitationHäggman-Laitila, Arja. Salokekkilä, Pirkko. Karki, Suyen. (2019). Young People's Preparedness for Adult Life and Coping After Foster Care: A Systematic Review of Perceptions and Experiences in the Transition Period. Child and youth care forum, 48 (5) , 633-661. 10.1007/s10566-019-09499-4.
The transition to adult life for those leaving foster care is a multidimensional phase of their personal development. Care leavers’ life outcomes are poorer in education, employment, income, housing and parenthood compared with their peers from the general population. They suffer more than other youngsters from mental health and behavioral problems, substance abuse and involvement with criminality.
This study aims to gather, assess and synthesize the current empirical evidence about subjective perceptions and experiences of former youth in foster care regarding their independent living during the transition to adulthood.
A systematic review was conducted of studies drawn from six databases and included quantitative studies from 2010 to 2017. Of the 37 eligible studies identified, 13 were selected for final review. Data was analyzed using a narrative method.
Foster care leavers identified themselves as adult and were quite confident about their future and potential for independent living. They had different coping strategies and profiles, but often faced the same challenges in finding employment, education and having a person whom they could rely on. Among the factors that supported the transition to independent living were care leavers’ personal characteristics, certain care-specific features, good education, sufficient prerequisites for a safe life and social support.
This review looked at various descriptive studies based on different conceptual perspectives, cultural contexts and methodologies. The evidence, however, still remains relatively insubstantial. Further studies are needed to provide more reliable evidence-based recommendations to inform service development, staff education and additional research activities.