Do supported transitions from foster care achieve better outcomes for young people? : an evaluation of young people's perspectives and experiences of Dingwall Trust's Launch Care to Independence service : a research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the Master of Social Work (Applied), Massey University, Albany campus

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Massey University
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Readiness to live independently vs. the age a young person is forced to do so ("Ageing out of care") is a much debated issue within the research on foster care leavers and as a response programmes designed to facilitate a young person's transition from care began emerging internationally during the 1990s under an umbrella of transition from care (TFC) schemes. In New Zealand a TFC initiative was established, by the Statutory Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, in Auckland in 2004 and delivered by the non-government agencies Dingwall Trust and Youth Horizons which developed pilot TFC schemes. This research aims to evaluate the continued need and effectiveness of Dingwall Trust's scheme, Launch Care to Independence (CTI) Service, through the shared opinions and experiences of young people who were placed in foster care and transitioned on to independent living through engagement with this programme. This study explores the challenges faced by youth who have left care within a New Zealand cultural context. Seven young people agreed to take part in this study and participated in a semi-structured interview process with a qualitative research design. An analysis of the interview data found that a young person's journey in foster care did impact their transition to independent living both in positive and negative ways. The assistance provided through the Launch CTI Service was perceived as necessary, relevant and young person focussed. The outcomes achieved through their engagement with the programme were generally good in areas of accommodation, continued education aspirations and living skills; however other areas such as employment and leaving school educational attainment revealed poorer outcomes for the majority of the group. The findings suggested that consistent, innovative and participatory relationships between young people and their Social Worker are most likely to develop a pathway in which positive outcomes can be achieved by the young person. This paper also illustrated the vulnerability of young people during their foster care experiences and the integral role of informal social networks in the provision of long-term support for young people transitioning to independent living.
Foster children, Foster home care