Care leavers' perspectives on facilitators and barriers to effective preparation for adulthood

  • Rebekah Hyde

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


In the UK, children and young people at risk of significant harm may be placed on a care order. Despite changes to the legislative landscape, research has found that once they reach adulthood, outcomes for care leavers are poor. Changes to the statutory role of educational psychologists, promoting work with those up to age 25, potentially offer greater scope for supporting this vulnerable group. A systematic literature review (SLR) sought to provide insight into care leavers’ priorities on entering adulthood. Studies published between 2002-2016 were identified from four databases. Eight studies met inclusion criteria, and were analysed using a quality framework. Seven were included in the final review. The SLR identified facilitators and barriers around preparing for adulthood for care leavers. An interdependence transition model emerged as a framework for enhancing care leaver transitions. Increased emphasis on involving care leavers in transition processes has marked an important change in recent years. In response to this participation agenda, ten care leavers aged 16-19 living in the North West and South West of England were interviewed about their priorities in preparing for adulthood. Thematic analysis was used to explore the extent to which care leavers were able to exert choice and control around these priority areas, using a Self-Determination Theory (SDT) framework. SDT links the individual’s ability to steer personal outcomes to the human need for competence, relatedness and autonomy. Findings indicated that the care leavers often did not feel a sense of relatedness to those supporting their decision-making and were often asked to assume high levels of autonomy in future life planning. Implications for educational psychologists acting in the role of corporate parent are explored. Having explored evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence, the final paper discusses dissemination of evidence to professional practice. A strategy for disseminating findings to corporate parents is proposed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCatharine Atkinson (Supervisor) & Catherine Kelly (Supervisor)


  • Care leavers; preparing for adulthood; UK; barriers and facilitators

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