Children with a disability (neurodevelopmental and/or mental health condition) are over-represented in state care populations. Care leavers with a disability have particular needs, and face additional barriers compared to other care leavers in terms of accessing assistance with education, employment, health, housing, emotional and social connections, and transport. Often there is a vacuum of support whereby neither mainstream aftercare services nor adult disability services provides the holistic support that is required. As a result, young people with disabilities are a high-risk group for poor outcomes. This chapter compares and contrasts the findings of two recent studies of care leavers with a disability in Australia and Northern Ireland. The Australian study involved a partnership with ten agencies to examine the needs and experiences of young people with a disability transitioning from out-of-home care (OHC) in the State of Victoria. There were two phases of data collection: focus groups with workers from six OHC and/or disability services, and interviews with 15 care leavers with a disability. The Northern Irish study had a two-stage approach involving a survey and case studies. Social workers in aftercare services completed surveys for each care leaver with a disability on their caseloads to profile the population. A purposive sample of care leavers were then selected as case studies, which involved interviews with care leavers, their birth parent/carer (if they were still domiciled with them) and their named worker. With permission, social care case files were also read to provide further background information on each case. Our joint findings indicate common themes for care leavers with disabilities across both jurisdictions including the areas of limited access to aftercare and specialist services; challenges to engagement in further education and employment; inadequate housing options; relationships with professionals; and access to informal support networks. Based on the findings from each study, the authors suggest a number of common policy and practice reforms required to improve outcomes for this group of care leavers.
|Title of host publication||Young People Transitioning from Out-of-Home Care|
|Subtitle of host publication||International Research, Policy and Practice|
|Editors||Philip Mendes, Pamela Snow|
|Place of Publication||London UK|
|Number of pages||20|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2016|