Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: their experience of informal support. A scoping review

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Abstract

Young people transitioning from out-of-home care often experience an abrupt end to the support to which they have been accustomed. Formal support from social workers and other professionals ceases or reduces depending on the policy and legislative frameworks for supporting care leavers in particular jurisdictions. Regardless, formal support for these young people ends in their early adult lives and they must rely on informal support networks to navigate their sudden independence. Purpose and methods This scoping review synthesises results from recent peer-reviewed studies exploring how care leavers create and experience an informal support network. Six databases were comprehensively searched with 58 studies selected for inclusion in the review. Key findings Seven core themes were identified: (1) the nature of informal support may be practical or emotional, and may be tenuous, (2) support may come from various sources, e.g. from family members/ex-carers, friends/romantic partners, via workplace relationships, (3) the benefits of informal support for care leavers include both tangible and intangible elements, (4) enablers of support include engaging in trusting relationships and participating in leisure activities, (5) limited support is available to care leavers, (6) barriers to receiving support include poor relationship skills and structural issues, (7) care leavers may be expected to be providers of, rather than recipients of support. Further research Future research should inform policy and practice change to provide care leavers with the skills and confidence to create and maintain effective informal support networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106735
Number of pages41
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume144
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Care leaver
  • Leaving care
  • Social network
  • Social support
  • Support network
  • Transitioning from out-of-home care

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