Care leavers in Catalonia
Care leavers are boys and girls who, for various reasons, have required the protection and guardianship of the Public Administration. As minors, they had to live outside of their biological family unit, either in residential care homes or with foster care families. At present, approximately 5 out of every 1000 children and adolescents in Catalonia find themselves in this situation (DGAIA, 2017). Once they come of age, some of these young boys and girls access transition-to-adulthood support programs or services, such as housing resources, job placement guidance, or economic assistance. These programs are offered by the Foster and Former Foster Youth Support Area (l’Àrea de suport al Jove Tutelat i Extutelat – ASJTET) in collaboration with various entities. Other young people, once they are of legal age, move to live with relatives, friends, acquaintances, or are on their own with or without protection services support.
The CALEAMI Project
The CALEAMI project is the result of the collaboration between the Federation of Entities offering Assisted Projects and Apartments (Federació d’Entitats amb Projectes i Pisos Assistits – FEPA), the Autonomous University of Barcelona Research Group on Children and Adolescents in Risk (Infància i Adolescència en Risc – IARS) and the Directorate General for Child and Adolescent Care (Direcció General d’Atenció a la Infància i l’Adolesència-DGAIA). This project will collect information to preserve, improve, or readjust the transition-to-adulthood support services and programs in Catalonia. The project proposes the creation of a system for monitoring the experience of care leavers in their transition to independent life, thereby obtain empirical evidence about the success of these youth. The aim is to monitor different groups of young people (from the ages of 18 to 26) over the course of eight years, selecting each year a new representative group of youth who reach the majority of age under guardianship upon which to start the longitudinal study.
The Work Group
The CALEAMI project is a participatory project developed by researchers, professional, youth, and administration technicians.
The project is led by a promotion committee comprising the FEPA professionals, care leavers, and researchers from the IARS Research Group. This commission is in charge of the design of the study, validation of the instruments, data collection and analysis, drafting of the findings, and boosting the participation of the advisory board and collecting their proposals.
The project also benefits from the participation of an advisory board responsible for offering support in some of the phases of the project. The advisory board consists of other transition expert researchers, care leavers, professionals from residential care homes, and administration technicians. This board collaborates with the promotion commission in the different phases of the project; in particular, in the design of the study and the instruments, the collection of data, and the discussion of the results.