Norwegian version

Against All Odds?

Why do some care leavers end up doing well as young adults, against all odds? What does "doing well" mean to young women and men, with majority backgrounds? These are questions we seek to investigate in this project.

Across Europe, care leavers are at risk of poor outcomes relative to the general population, on indicators like education, mental and physical health, homelessness, unemployment, dependence on social assistance and crime. To support this vulnerable group into adulthood, it is not sufficient to focus on risk factors. We need to learn more from the experiences and the developmental pathways of those who do well.

Research about positive outcomes among these young adults is still relatively scarce and there is and urgent need to address this critical knowledge gap: Better understanding of pathways and developments is leading to positive outcomes would illuminate good practice, and inform the development of policy and services for young people in care and care leavers.

We do not know enough about the potential protective value of care and after care services. A one sided focus on negative outcomes may lead to the erroneus assumption that placement in care is inevitably bad for children' live chances. If we are to understand the potential of care systems to contribute to good outcomes for these young adults we need to move beyond a problematic lens. This is theoretically important because notions of risk and outcomes in the care literature remain insufficiently conceptualized in relation to wider theoretical understandings of young peoples transitions into adult worlds, addressing individual lifeworlds and biographical temporalities, including critical moments in the intersections of past, present, and future in their lives.

We will contribute in all these respects by generating new, comparative knowledge about conditions for, and variations and patterns in successful transition processes among young adults formerly in public care at different points in time during young adulthood.

Research objectives

The «Against all odds» study is a three-year project starting in September, 2014 funded by the Norwegian Research Council and NOVA. The project has four overarching objectives: