Att lämna en placering i samhällsvård : En studie om ungas övergång från samhällsvård till vuxenliv

Sammanfattning: The focus in this thesis is young peoples’ (aged 17–20) experiences of leaving out-of-home care (OHC) and making the transition into adulthood. Prior research shows care leavers as a vulnerable group making the transition to adulthood at younger age, in shorter duration and with less support than their peers. The overarching aim is to gain knowledge of how young care leavers experience and handle their transition from OHC to adulthood, and how their experiences and strategies change over time. The study design is longitudinal with three waves of interviews: when still in care (T1), 6–11 months later when most of them had left care (T2) and another 10–19 months later (T3). Article I focuses the informants’ (n=15) expectations for their future and how these are changing over time (T1–T2). The participants’ short term expectations are characterized by worries (T1) and ambivalence (T2) – their long-term expectations are more optimistic (both T1 and T2) and tend to be guided by normative developmental patterns. The aim of article II is to study care leavers’ (n=20) strategies for handling adversities during their OHC transition. The results show that the participants over time (T1–T2) develop externally oriented strategies by navigating towards available resources, and internally oriented reflexive strategies for re-negotiating the meaning of their earlier experiences. Departing from an agency perspective article III focuses care leavers’ (n=14) transitional patterns of leaving care (T1–T3). Three patterns are identified: one stable long-term future oriented, one unstable short-term future oriented and one ambivalent pattern shuttling between long- and short-term future orientations. The aim in article IV is to study occupational trajectories, i.e. care leavers’ (n=14) paths into education and employment from a theoretical framework of agency vs. structure. The results show three ideal types of trajectories where agency is: (1) facilitated by structure, (2) perceived as free from structural constraints, and (3) hindered by structural constraints. The longitudinal design provides an original contribution the field of study by uncovering how care leavers’ expectations for their future is changing during the process of transition, how increasingly successful strategies are developed over time, and how transitional OHC patterns are influenced by the agents’ time horizons as well as by structural forces. A conclusion from the study is that societal support targeting young care leavers is deficient and needs to be developed and strengthened. Furthermore, the transition could be facilitated by extending the duration of the transition process, by including care leavers as active participating agents in the planning process of their passage out from OHC, and by strengthening the maintenance of care leavers’ relationships to supportive members in their formal and informal network. ”Independence” as the ultimate goal for young people leaving OHC is criticized based on the results showing that interdependent relationships to significant others is an integrated part of care leavers’ perception of adult life.