“I got into a very dark place”: addressing the needs of young people leaving care during the Covid-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

485 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper reports on the findings of a qualitative study that explored the views and experiences of young people leaving care during the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.
Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach was adopted involving semi-structured interviews with 24 care leavers aged 18-25 years old from across the region. Interviews were conducted remotely online or by telephone and explored young people’s lived experiences during the pandemic including their views on the formal support services and how best to provide ongoing for support care leavers during the pandemic.
Findings: Study findings highlight how known adversities for care leavers are exacerbated during the pandemic, having a detrimental impact particularly on their emotional wellbeing. The response of the state as corporate parent in mitigating the impact of the pandemic was found to be inadequate; with a need for need for much clearer communication, transparent and prompt decision making and targeted specialist mental health services. The account given by the young people also highlighted the importance of participation and relationship-based practice to build on the young people’s resilience in the context of high levels of social isolation and limited access to informal support systems.
Originality/value: This research, based on the views of care experienced young people themselves, is the first study in Northern Ireland to report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care leaving. As such it makes a contribution to this emerging international field of study and, given the persistence of the pandemic, provides empirical findings and a social justice perspective of ongoing relevance to policy and practice with young people leaving care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Children's Services
Early online date24 Aug 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 24 Aug 2021


  • Leaving care
  • covid-19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of '“I got into a very dark place”: addressing the needs of young people leaving care during the Covid-19 pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this