October 25 2012

What next for youth leaving care?


25/10/2012 - What becomes of 14-year-old Albanians who are obliged by law to leave care and fend for themselves? Why did one-in-three youths interviewed in the Czech Republic have negative feelings towards leaving a care environment? Why are half of their peers in Finland neither working nor studying?

These are among many questions raised in When Care Ends: Lessons from Peer Research. The ground-breaking European peer research report on leaving care will be launched on Tuesday, November 6 at the EU Parliament in Brussels. The uniquely refined method of peer research – adopted in the two year study by SOS Children’s Villages and the National Care Advisory Service (UK) – is as thought provoking as its findings.

When Care Ends: Lessons Learned © SOS Archives
Leaving Care- With support, young people can greatly help one another © Andriy Petrenko - Fotolia.com

 Youth participation is key

Across Albania, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Poland a team of 44 peer researchers supported by academics, caregivers, psychologists and others got young people to talk candidly about their care leaving experiences. After receiving specialist training the young men and women – who grew up in care – interviewed 340 youths who had left care or were about to do so.

Through their intimate experience, the young researchers empathised and thereby gained an unprecedented insight into the lives of care leavers. They unearthed information that was hitherto unavailable and revealed alarming issues.

It was learned that youths leaving care can greatly help one another. A network of supportive relationships involving carers, family and friends can greatly allay the fears of many. This common sentiment was expressed by one of the care leavers who said: “I worry that others will not care about me, that I will be alone, without anybody to turn to”.

Youth participation is central to the events around the launch of the report. Over 30 young care leavers, officials from various EU institutions, childcare practitioners, academics and others will be among over 90 participants from 20 countries who will convene to inspire action and exchange ideas on the subject.

The research project which is co-founded by the EU’s Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme highlights how long-term life quality is greatly influenced by the transition from childcare to independent living.