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Health Res Policy Syst. 2010 May 12;8:10. doi: 10.1186/1478-4505-8-10.

Leaving care and mental health: outcomes for children in out-of-home care during the transition to adulthood.

Author information

1
Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Anglia Ruskin University, Webb Building, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, UK. jane.akister@anglia.ac.uk.

Abstract

There were 59,500 Children in out-of-home care in England in 2008. Research into this population points to poor health and quality of life outcomes over the transition to adult independence. This undesirable outcome applies to mental health, education and employment. This lack of wellbeing for the individual is a burden for health and social care services, suggesting limitations in the current policy approaches regarding the transitional pathway from care to adult independence. Although the precise reasons for these poor outcomes are unclear long term outcomes from national birth cohorts suggest that mental health could be a key predictor for subsequent psychosocial adjustment.Researching the wellbeing of children in out-of-home care has proven difficult due to the range and complexity of the factors leading to being placed in care and the different methods used internationally for recording information. This paper delineates the estimated prevalence of mental health problems for adolescents in the care system, organisational factors, influencing service provision, and pathways through the transition from adolescence to independent young adult life. The extent to which being taken into care as a child moderates adult wellbeing outcomes remains unknown. Whether the care system enhances, reduces or has a null effect on wellbeing and specifically mental health cannot be determined from the current literature. Nonetheless a substantial proportion of young people display resilience and experience successful quality of life outcomes including mental capital. A current and retrospective study of young people transitioning to adult life is proposed to identify factors that have promoted successful outcomes and which would be used to inform policy developments and future longitudinal studies.

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