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Higher Education for Care Leavers without Family Support

On the verge of leaving the care system: Assessment of life skills and needs of adolescents in care

Benbenishty, R., & Zeira, A. (2012). On the verge of leaving the care system: Assessment of life skills and needs of adolescents in care. Diskurs Kindheits- und Jugendforschung Heft, 3, 291-308.

The present study examines professional workers’ perceptions about life skills and the needs of adolescents in (educational) youth villages, (welfare) residential treatment and family foster care in the final two years of their stay in care. The study further examines the extent to which they can expect family support when they leave care. The sample in the study included 178 adolescents in foster care, 291 in residential care and 1257 in youth villages. Structured questionnaires were completed by staff members working with the adolescents in care. The findings indicate that adolescents in youth villages may expect more familial support when they leave the system compared with youths in other types of placements, whereas the families of adolescents in residential care exert on them many more negative pressures. Workers identified several areas in which adolescents lacked life skills, among them education and the ability to complete meaningful (compulsory) military service. Many needs were identified and were especially evident in the areas of future education and employment. The findings imply a clear need to engage in individual assessment and plan for youths while they are still in care. Furthermore, the importance of developing programs to prepare youths while in care is discussed, as well as services for care leavers in the transition period.

Keywords:

care leavers

needs

life skills

foster care

residential care

youth villages

Israel