When they turn 18 (or 21 at the latest), young people who have grown up under public care suddenly become adults and care for themselves.
While their peers choose to live at home longer and longer, these young people are expected to quickly be fully autonomous and find a home and a job, in most cases without finishing secondary school in most cases.
Young people transitioning from out-of-home care (OOHC) are globally acknowledged as a vulnerable group. A large body of research shows that these young people experience a feeling of instability, powerlessness, unpreparedness, abandonment, and mistrust. Compared to their peers, care leavers are more likely to have a conviction, to become young parents, and to experience social exclusion (Stein, 2006), and to experience mental ill health issues.
They are less likely to achieve academically in school, attend higher education, or to be employed than their peers who have a family to look after them.
While the problem has been well known for decades, in Italy the first laws for young people leaving care since 2017, and it was not until July 2020 that the first real institution for access to employment for care leavers established.
As a researcher and practitioner, part of my work focuses on care leavers’ access to employment. I choose to focus on care leavers because I feel it is unfair that governments choose to alienate children from their families but end up not really caring for them. Poor outcomes that care leavers experience in adult life mean that the welfare and education system has missed its own target.
I think we should do everything in our power to make sure that does not happen