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Higher Education for Care Leavers without Family Support

Continuity and Discontinuity in the Transition from Care to Adulthood

This paper focuses on care leavers’ experiences of their transition from care to adulthood. Using a social pedagogical perspective,
we explore continuity and discontinuity in their life course as central aspects of support in the transition process. Using biographical narratives of three young
people with different paths of transition from public care, we argue that a successful transition to independent living involves
a complex interplay of continuity and discontinuity. Our analysis suggests a typology of (dis)continuity patterns in the transition
to adulthood: (i) creating continuity, (ii) transforming continuity, (iii) discontinuity by breaking up continuity and (iv) enabling continuity by discontinuity. Current discourse in social work research values stability in care and continuity in the transition from care as a main
strategy for successful transition. This perspective on the efforts of professionals and institutions, emphasizing placement
stability, disregards the young people’s own efforts to create (dis)continuity in other aspects of their life. These, we found,
can lead to positive changes. Our results suggest that, to enhance care leavers’ agency to cope with transition processes,
social work practice should strive to understand the client’s biographically driven strategies of creating (dis)continuity.

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