The poverty of policy: Examining care leaving policy in Ethiopia

Anduamlak Takele, Messay Gebremariam, Philip Mendes

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International research consistently shows that young care leavers’ journey from care to emerging adulthood is characterized by adversities like unemployment, poor academic performance, and homelessness, involvement in criminal activities, mental illness and early parenthood. As research evidence pointed out, such negative outcomes are closely linked with existence of multiple placements, lack of mentoring, limited connections with significant others, the absence of early preparation to leave care, and a dearth or inadequacy of policy frameworks that entitle care leavers to use aftercare support schemes. In order to support care leavers’ transition from care to emerging adulthood, Global North countries have put in place an independent care leaving policy framework that serves as a scaffolding from challenges that would arise from care leavers’ exploration of the adult world upon leaving care. However, such experience in formulation of policy to empower care leavers to be an independent adult is not well developed in countries in Global South due to the infant nature of research on care leaving, and a preference for addressing the issues of care leavers in the existing child policy frameworks rather than formulating a special policy that deals with care leaving. The status of Ethiopia in this regard is not different. Existing policy frameworks concerning children have failed to address the needs of Ethiopian care leavers despite the existence of over five million orphan and vulnerable children in the country most of whom are placed in institutional child care centers. This article presents the case for an independent care leaving policy in Ethiopia to address the multifaceted needs of children in care and improve the care leaving service in the country. Thus, the study will shed light on the state of care leaving policy in the world, and lessons for Ethiopia to support Ethiopia’s attempt to serve the most vulnerable children-children in care by developing its own care leaving policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-271
Number of pages12
JournalInstitutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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