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Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Nov;37(6):767-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01287.x.

Supporting the transition of looked-after young people to independent living: a systematic review of interventions and adult outcomes.

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1
Section of Public Health, School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. e.everson-hock@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

This systematic review aimed to synthesize evidence on the effectiveness of transition support services (TSSs) that are delivered towards the end of care for looked-after young people (LAYP) on their adult outcomes, including education, employment, substance misuse, criminal and offending behaviour, parenthood, housing and homelessness and health. Searches of health, social science and social care bibliographic databases were conducted and records were screened for relevance. Citation and reference list searches were conducted on included studies. Relevant studies were synthesized and critically appraised. Seven studies were identified (five retrospective and two prospective cohort studies), six of which were conducted in the USA and one in the UK. Overall, LAYP who received TSSs were more likely to complete compulsory education with formal qualifications, be in current employment, be living independently and less likely to be young parents. There was no reported effect of the impact of TSSs on crime or mental health, and mixed findings for homelessness. The range of TSS components investigated and reported varied considerably within and between studies, with limited evidence of long-term outcomes. The literature reviewed offers no reliable conclusions on the effectiveness of TSSs at this time due to variations in research quality and because few formal evaluations of existing TSSs have been conducted, resulting in mixed evidence in terms of positive, negative and neutral impact on outcomes. Further high-quality, robust research to evaluate the effectiveness of TSSs on adult outcomes for young people in the short, medium and longer term is needed to address the health inequalities experienced by this small but vulnerable group and to inform decision making about service provision.

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