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Integrative review of the evaluation of additional support programs for care leavers making the transition to adulthood

      Highlights

      • First review of single- and multi-focused additional support programs in aftercare
      • Weak evidence of the effectiveness was found of the programs.
      • Holistic programs which consider care leavers needs and decision-making are needed.
      • Suggestions for the development of the programs are provided.
      • Evaluation of programs should be improved with strong study designs.

      Abstract

      Problem

      Care leavers face many challenges during their transition to adulthood, such as educational attainment, financial instability, housing problems and relationship problems. Various structured programs and additional support exist to help them make this transition and these provide help before or after they have left care. However, the outcomes of such support programs are fragmented. The aim of this study was to synthesize the empirical evidence of studies that evaluated additional support programs that facilitated the transition of care leavers to adulthood.

      Eligibility criteria

      Six databases were searched that were published in English in peer-review journals from 2010 to 2019. We reviewed 16 studies related to additional support programs with different methodological designs.

      Sample

      Care leavers' who have left the foster care.

      Results

      There were two different types of programs: single-focused and multiple-focused programs. Half of them provided holistic support. Feedback from care leavers provided practical suggestions for the development of relationships with the staffs and peers, for the development of programs and care leavers own involvement in decision-making. The evaluations showed weak evidence of the effectiveness of housing, employment and educational programs.

      Conclusions

      The programs were poorly described and heterogenous so that the outcomes could not be compared. It was not possible to provide robust information about their effectiveness.

      Implications

      We need holistic programs which consider care leavers needs and views, and evaluate rigorously the programs by strong study designs, to determine their effectiveness.

      Keywords

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