Qualitative exploration of supporting figures in the lives of emerging adults who left care compared with their noncare-leaving peers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Studies on youth leaving care have emphasized their limited social support and their need for continuing support after emancipation. However, less is known about the nature of their existing social networks after emancipation and their roles during their transition to adulthood compared with their noncare-leaving peers. With this in mind, 32 young adults aged 18 to 25 participated in semi-structured interviews regarding their current support figures in order to learn whether they were congruent with their needs after emancipation. Thematic analysis revealed four main features of the two groups' social networks: (a) stability versus uncertainty as to the lasting presence of the supportive figure, (b) reliance on parents as main supportive figures versus relying on different supportive figures, (c) confidence versus uncertainty in the supportive figures' ability to help, and (d) holistic versus fragmented support of the young adults' needs. The discussion addresses the unique characteristics of care leavers in emerging adulthood and the implications of their social networks' features for their adjustment after emancipation. One of the study's recommendations is to proactively connect them to new supportive figures such as professionals or mentors by offering them mentoring programs cognizant of the instrumental and developmental tasks of emerging adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • emerging adulthood
  • leaving care
  • social support
  • transition to adulthood

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