Beyond 18: The longitudinal study on leaving care - Wave 2 research report

Transitioning to post‑care life
Foster care Youth Out-of-home care Victoria

This report contains key findings from the second wave of data collection for Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care. The report provides a snapshot of how young people in Beyond 18 are faring after leaving out‑of-home care (OOHC) in Victoria and focuses on some key aspects of their transition to adult life. The findings in this report are drawn from Wave 2 of the online Survey of Young People and from qualitative interviews with young people participating in Beyond 18.

The study found that care leavers participating in the Beyond 18 study had generally poorer mental health, employment and education outcomes than other young people their age. They were also more likely to have children of their own. Data analysis did not reveal a specific subgroup of young people who were doing better or worse on most or all indicators; rather, most of the study population faced at least some life challenges. A small group of young people appeared to have had a relatively ‘smooth’ transition, with an early transition into safe and stable housing, good social relationships and relatively good educational attainment; however, this group was too small for the analysis to detect common characteristics associated with good outcomes.

Young people exiting residential care had poorer outcomes on some measures than young people from home‑based care placements such as kinship care or foster care. Specifically, although young people exiting residential care had similar employment and education outcomes to the rest of the study population, they reported higher levels of financial stress, greater psychological distress and a reduced sense of control over their lives. The qualitative interviews also indicated that young people from residential care could have difficulty maintaining social relationships while living in OOHC and could transition with smaller social networks. However, residential care leavers were also more likely than other care leavers to maintain contact with support services and former workers after leaving care. The qualitative interviews also indicated that some residential care leavers had been able to effectively use the supports available to them and had moved into stable and secure housing and/or had explored educational opportunities.

This is the second of three research reports on the Beyond 18 study. The first report included findings from the first wave of the Beyond 18 Survey of Young People and the surveys of carers and caseworkers and focused on the key elements of young people’s preparations for leaving OOHC, such as formal transition planning and the development of independent living skills. This report focuses more explicitly on young people’s lives and outcomes after leaving OOHC. Further exploration of the factors associated with better or worse transition outcomes will be undertaken in Wave 3 and included in the third and final Beyond 18 research report.

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