Supported Independent Living and Care Leaving

Supported independent living provides for a young person’s transition to adulthood as he or she reaches an age and capacity to live more independently, and expresses the desire to do so. “Care leaving” refers to the follow-up support needed for youth who have lived in residential or foster care and have reached the age of independence (usually 18 years or older). Research has shown that this can be a very difficult, isolating, and high-risk time for youth, especially when this transition occurs without the appropriate planning and support.

Youth entering into supported independent living require individualized care planning and follow-up. They should be actively and fully involved in developing their care plans, identifying solutions to any obstacles to overcome as they leave residential care and what will need to be in pace for them to be successful, identifying their strengths and needs, and discerning goals to attain. A care plan developed in response to these needs may include assistance in strengthening life skills, budgeting, cooking, job seeking, and integration into the community. Identifying and preparing mentors, linking youth with peer support groups, and arranging work apprenticeships in the community can provide youth with key relationships and support as they navigate their individual paths to independence. Moving from residential care to independent living should happen only when the goals of the preparation process have been met.

Independent Living Review Provides a review of literature about independent living programs, featuring the methodology and approach used, findings and policy on alternative care arrangements, and needs of and support offered to care leavers. Covers aspects such as relationships, education, housing, and social inclusion. Findings regarding care leavers are applied to street children. The conclusion presents recommendations for future research, practice, and policy. (Retrak)

Preparation for Independent Living Provides a compilation of articles on the topic of preparing young people to leave care, including good practice examples, resources, youth perspectives, and more. (SOS Children’s Villages International)

Best Practices in Transitioning Youth out of Care, Successful Transitions, Success as Adults Examines literature on the best practices for youth aging out of care that indicate successful outcomes for them as adults; and identifies factors that may present barriers to youth leaving care and transitioning to adulthood, including lack of supportive relationships, educational challenges, housing instability, and economic challenges. (Children’s Aid Society of Toronto)

Guidelines for Kinship Care, Foster Care and Supported Independent Living in Liberia Includes sections on identifying children, preventing separation, family reintegration, responsibilities, sensitization in the community, and step-by-step guidance for kinship care, foster care, and independent living. (Government of Liberia et al.)

Kenya Careleavers Conference Report: “How I Left Care Explores issues surrounding care institutions, specifically in relation to reintegration, the topic of choice for the care leavers. (Kenya Society of Careleavers)