The role of informal networks in the lives of young people transitioning from care : a review of the literature

Teer, Philip (2021) The role of informal networks in the lives of young people transitioning from care : a review of the literature. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 20 (1). ISSN 2976-9353

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Young people leaving the care system face significant challenges when making the transition to adulthood, with limited support from other agencies. Their outcomes are significantly poorer than those of their non-care peers. This review aims to synthesise recent research on informal network support for care leavers making the transition to adulthood. Method: A systematic search was undertaken using three bibliographic databases: PsycINFO (Ovid platform), Social Care Online (SCIE) and Social Services Abstracts. Systematic searching identified three concepts: "children in care", "transition" and "social networks". Ten articles were identified for inclusion. Findings: Informal networks play an important role in promoting wellbeing and better outcomes in adulthood. There is also growing recognition of the importance of an educative approach to strengthen young people's internal resources, increase their ability to develop relationships and to raise awareness of the difficulties care leavers have in developing relationships due to trauma. Conclusion: Recent research highlights the emerging importance of interdependent living programmes to complement traditional independent living programmes and the important role relationships have for wellbeing and improving life outcomes for care leavers. The review identifies opportunities for further research to explore the development of interdependent approaches before the transition from care to adulthood.

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