Understanding how young people transitioning from out-of-home care acquire and develop independent living skills and knowledge: A systematic review of longitudinal studies

Michael Starr*, Reinie Cordier, Eduwin Pakpahan, Matthew Robinson, Renée Speyer, Donna Chung

*Corresponding author for this work

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Young people leaving state care often experience hardship in many areas of their life. At a population level, their outcomes in early adulthood are poorer compared to general populations. Effective preparation for leaving care and post-care support systems is vital to improving outcomes. Individual and systemic support for young people to acquire Independent Living Skills (ILS) in the following eight ILS domains have been identified: Financial Management, Knowledge of Accessing Available Supports, Managing Housing, Education Planning, Job Seeking, Health Risk Management, Domestic and Self-help Task, and Managing Relationships. This systematic review aims to identify, summarise, and appraise longitudinal studies that address ILS across these ILS domains to understand better how outcomes could be improved. Seven databases (CINAHL, Embase, ProQuest, PsychINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) were searched on 20th July 2023. In total, twenty-seven studies published between 1994 and 2022 from various countries met the eligibility criteria. The included studies reported on 2–4 waves and adopted different methodological approaches. Study quality was scored using Qualsyst. Study characteristics and details of the interventions are presented in tables. Studies cover overlapping ILS domains, which are mapped in a matrix. Results revealed that nearly three-quarters (74% or 20 out of 27) of studies explored four or fewer of the eight ILS domains. The most frequent ILS domain covered was ‘Knowledge of Accessing Available Supports’ (19/27 studies). The main conclusion considers the concept of independence as a misnomer, with ILS covering multiple, intersecting, and interdependent domains, which ultimately help and hinder one another. Further research is required to adopt a more comprehensive approach encompassing all the domains to better inform policy, programs, and practice. A limitation is that a meta-analysis was not conducted for this review. This study registered a ‘Protocol’ with OSF Registries (DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/MJ3ZX) on June 5th, 2022.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0304965
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2024

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