Young people leaving care with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems: strengths and weaknesses in their transitions
Ageing out of the child protection system involves many difficulties for youth leaving care. Care leavers with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems are at even greater risk. The aim of this study is to know how both care leavers and practitioners evaluate the transition to emancipation. Conducted within the framework of a program directed at care leavers with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems, this study is aimed at understanding the factors that facilitate and hinder their process of emancipation in order to make the necessary changes. Using qualitative research methods, interviews were conducted with 14 youngsters living in supported housing and 16 practitioners – mainly social educators - working with them. Results indicated that both parties were highly satisfied with the housing program. For the care leavers, it was an opportunity adapted to their circumstances; they spoke of personal growth and receiving support to meet their needs. However, weaknesses, dilemmas and challenges were also discussed, such as the temporary nature of the program and the type of support available on leaving, or the dependence of the young people on their educators.