Ceryl Davies (Bangor University, North Wales)

(United Kingdom)

Topic: A Scoping Review: Exploring the nature of engagement with Care Leavers

Language: English 


Young people transitioning from out of home care (care-leavers) often experience an abrupt end to their formal support. Many care leavers experience poorer individual and social outcomes compared to non-care experienced young people. Care leavers involvement with their decision making and consistent supportive relationships with professionals such as social workers facilitate a more successful transition to independent living. This transitional support can often facilitate better well-being and social outcomes for care leavers. However, not all care leavers engage with, or participate in after-care services, and there has been little systematic or structured modelling of effective enablement through leaving care services.

We present findings from the initial phases of our study that seeks to understand the barriers and enablers to care leavers engagement with multi- agency services.

We conducted a scoping review of the international literature. Eighteen papers were identified, and a thematic synthesis conducted. We found that barriers to engagement included: identity, independence, trust in services and inadequate support. Enablers included persistent and consistent support, time and turning points, and having an authentic trusted professional within the service. The key findings focused on the need for flexible and accessible services, a gradual introduction to the after-care concept and a proactive approach by professionals, especially immediately after leaving care.

The findings from the review were used to populate a logic model illustrating the relationship between the mechanisms identified in the literature contributing to better outcomes for care-leavers: including the inputs, activities, outputs. This underpins our next phase of research which includes interviews and focus groups with care-leavers and related stakeholders to further develop a logic model to underpin the development of a pilot Practice model, Engagement Framework and Toolkit intervention for multi- agency professionals. A social return on investment of the intervention will be conducted, a form of cost benefit analysis that involves stakeholders including the care-leavers. This will identify and measure the relevant and significant stakeholder outcomes and demonstrate the economic and social value of the intervention. This research, co-produced by care-leavers will contribute to understanding the nature of enablers and barriers. The subsequent development and measurement of the practice model interventions will have broader applicability across areas of research, policy, and practice.