Young people leaving care and institutionalised vulnerability in the Russian Federation

Tom Disney*, Charlie Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

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Care leavers are often considered to constitute some of the most disadvantaged young people in society, and there exists a significant body of research that seeks to understand why some young people ‘succeed’, whereas others struggle due to accumulated ‘vulnerabilities’. Despite this extensive research base, policy and practice aiming to support young people leaving care remain diverse, indicating a lack of consensus on why some experience ‘poor outcomes’ and what might be done better to support them. This article focusses on the experiences of young people leaving care in the Russian Federation and makes two contributions; firstly, it provides theoretical insights through a critical discussion of the notion of vulnerability. We argue for attention to institutional vulnerabilities, which heavily structure the potential outcome of transitions available to young people leaving care in Russia. We note discourses and practices of dependency-related victim-blaming, which indicate the operation of ‘attribution errors’ in the Russian care and post-care systems, erroneously positioning individuals as responsible for their vulnerability rather than the dysfunction of systems of care. To fully understand the reasons for many young people’s ‘poorer outcomes’, we suggest refocussing attention towards the combined operation of discourses, systems and structures through the conceptual approach of ‘institutionalised vulnerability’. Secondly, the paper provides an empirical contribution in shedding light on the experiences of young people transitioning out of the care system as well as practitioners working in both the state and third sector in Russia, as the country experiences an ongoing process of deinstitutionalisation. This is important for other contexts given global efforts to deinstitutionalise residential child care settings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107225
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date11 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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