Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care (“Beyond 18”) was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to increase understanding of the factors associated with successful transitions from out-of-home care. The study is scheduled to end in 2018.
Beyond 18 has three main elements:
the Longitudinal Survey of Young People (Beyond 18’s central component). It comprises three waves of annual data collection from young people who have spent time in statutory care in Victoria. Data are collected via online surveys and follow-up qualitative telephone interviews. The first wave of the survey involved 202 young people aged 16–19 years old.
three annual online surveys of carers and caseworkers. These surveys run at the same time as the annual survey of young people.
analysis of an extract from the DHHS Client Relationship Information System (CRIS). Options for data linkage with young people’s survey data and with other government datasets are being explored.
This first research report for the Beyond 18 study uses data from the first wave of surveys to focus on young people’s preparations for transition from out-of-home care. Future research reports will detail young people’s post-care outcomes and the factors influencing their outcomes.
Previous research on transitions from out-of-home care has indicated that early, comprehensive and collaborative transition planning is associated with better post-care outcomes. Initial findings from the Beyond 18 study, however, suggest that state legislation and practice guidelines about transition planning were often not followed and that young people were frequently not involved in formal, structured planning about their future. Some of the inconsistency around transition planning appeared to be related to caseworkers’ focus on meeting young people’s most urgent needs, such as having somewhere to live when they leave care, rather than other important but less pressing forms of transition preparation. A lack of accessible leaving care services was also a potential barrier to effective planning.