The policy context of leaving care services: A case study of Northern Ireland

M. E. Collins, John Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The transition of foster youth from state care to independent living has received increased research, practice, and policy attention in the United States and in many other countries. Most contributions to this literature have focused on documenting poor outcomes across various dimensions of need in the young people's lives whereas little attention has been given to the policy context in which the responses to those needs are being developed. In this article, we argue that there is a pressing need for better understanding of how the policy context can both promote and impede the development of appropriate services. To illustrate our argument, we use Northern Ireland as a policy case study both because of recent initiatives underway there in regard to youth transitions from state care and because of the heightened political sensibilities associated with it as a society. We draw attention to the socio-political historical context, a number of intersecting social policies, and the place of social work as a key occupation involved in delivering service improvements. We conclude by suggesting that this case study not only highlights the need to address similar aspects of the policy on youth transition frorn state care in the United States but also demonstrates the benefits of reflecting on policy development and implementation elsewhere in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1288
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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