Why youth leave care: Understandings of adulthood and transition successes and challenges among youth aging out of child welfare
Child welfare policies and practices are changing to allow more youth to remain in care beyond age 18. Yet, the majority of youth do not stay. Given recent evidence suggesting that remaining in care may be beneficial, these authors interviewed 45 young people aging out of care (ages 18 to 23) to better understand why they leave. They found that youth leave care because of misunderstanding and misinformation about the requirements for remaining in care, as well as because of a desire for autonomy and independence. Specifically, many youth equated adulthood with independence, and thus felt that they needed to leave care to achieve adulthood. Unfortunately, their efforts to be independent often hinder youths' development of supportive relationships, which they reported to be one of the greatest challenges in their transitions. The authors conclude by challenging the conflation of adulthood and independence, and calling for connected autonomy as a goal for child welfare involved young people of all ages. Modified Author Abstract.