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Narratives of care leavers: What promotes resilience in transitions to independent lives?

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  • Refaeli, Tehila

Abstract

Studies have revealed that young people who age out of residential or foster care (care leavers) must cope with a variety of challenges as they transition to adulthood. In addition, there are wide gaps in achievements in different life domains between care leavers and other people in their age group. Using a narrative approach, the study presented in this article analyzed the life stories of 16 care leavers in Israel. To shed light on their subjective experiences in life after care, data were collected four years after the participants left residential care. The analysis focused on care leavers' resilience in the wake of their transition from military service to independent life. The data analysis revealed that after this transition, two distinct groups could be discerned: the “struggling to survive” group, and the “surviving through struggle” group. The narratives of the first group consist mainly of descriptions of the difficulties they encountered and their ongoing efforts to improve their adaption and functioning in their daily lives. These participants were identified as young adults at risk. The narratives of the participants of the second group, in contrast, highlight their positive attitudes about their situations in various life domains in the present and in the near future. Likewise, members of the second group consistently invested effort in overcoming the obstacles they face. The main characteristics of the two groups are illustrated by recounting the life story of a member of each group. The analysis highlights the resources and deficits shared by these groups and the circumstances that are unique to each group. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Refaeli, Tehila, 2017. "Narratives of care leavers: What promotes resilience in transitions to independent lives?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-9.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:1-9
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.05.023
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    1. Pinkerton, John, 2011. "Constructing a global understanding of the social ecology of leaving out of home care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2412-2416.
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    6. Munson, Michelle R. & Smalling, Susan E. & Spencer, Renée & Scott Jr., Lionel D. & Tracy, Elizabeth M., 2010. "A steady presence in the midst of change: Non-kin natural mentors in the lives of older youth exiting foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 527-535, April.
    7. Hiles, Dominic & Moss, Duncan & Wright, John & Dallos, Rudi, 2013. "Young people's experience of social support during the process of leaving care: A review of the literature," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2059-2071.
    8. Barn, Ravinder & Tan, Jo-Pei, 2012. "Foster youth and crime: Employing general strain theory to promote understanding," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 212-220.
    9. Zeller, Maren & Köngeter, Stefan, 2012. "Education in residential care and in school: A social-pedagogical perspective on the educational attainment of young women leaving care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1190-1196.
    10. Singer, Erin Rebecca & Berzin, Stephanie Cosner & Hokanson, Kim, 2013. "Voices of former foster youth: Supportive relationships in the transition to adulthood," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2110-2117.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stubbs, Alix & Baidawi, Susan & Mendes, Philip, 2023. "Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: their experience of informal support. A scoping review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    2. Melkman, Eran P. & Benbenishty, Rami, 2018. "Social support networks of care leavers: Mediating between childhood adversity and adult functioning," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 176-187.
    3. Disney, Tom & Walker, Charlie, 2023. "Young people leaving care and institutionalised vulnerability in the Russian Federation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    4. Atwool, Nicola, 2020. "Transition from care: Are we continuing to set care leavers up to fail in New Zealand?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C).
    5. Sulimani-Aidan, Yafit, 2020. "Challenges in the transition to adulthood of young-adult Arabs who graduated from residential facilities in Israel," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C).
    6. Refaeli, Tehila & Benbenishty, Rami & Zeira, Anat, 2019. "Predictors of life satisfaction among care leavers: A mixed-method longitudinal study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 146-155.
    7. Frimpong-Manso, Kwabena, 2018. "Building and utilising resilience: The challenges and coping mechanisms of care leavers in Ghana," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 52-59.
    8. Yin, Shian, 2024. "Investigating local policy responses to support care-experienced young people in China – A scoping review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 157(C).

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