Narratives of care leavers: What promotes resilience in transitions to independent lives? Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies have revealed that young people who age out of residential or foster care (care leavers) must cope with a variety of challenges as they transition to adulthood. In addition, there are wide gaps in achievements in different life domains between care leavers and other people in their age group. Using a narrative approach, the study presented in this article analyzed the life stories of 16 care leavers in Israel. To shed light on their subjective experiences in life after care, data were collected four years after the participants left residential care. The analysis focused on care leavers' resilience in the wake of their transition from military service to independent life. The data analysis revealed that after this transition, two distinct groups could be discerned: the “struggling to survive” group, and the “surviving through struggle” group. The narratives of the first group consist mainly of descriptions of the difficulties they encountered and their ongoing efforts to improve their adaption and functioning in their daily lives. These participants were identified as young adults at risk. The narratives of the participants of the second group, in contrast, highlight their positive attitudes about their situations in various life domains in the present and in the near future. Likewise, members of the second group consistently invested effort in overcoming the obstacles they face. The main characteristics of the two groups are illustrated by recounting the life story of a member of each group. The analysis highlights the resources and deficits shared by these groups and the circumstances that are unique to each group. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017