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Youth residing in out‐of‐home care settings have often been exposed to childhood trauma, and commonly report experiencing adverse outcomes after transitioning from care. This meta‐analysis appraised internationally published literature investigating the impact of transitional programme participation (among youth with a baseline age of 15–24 years) on post‐transition outcomes of housing, education, employment, mental health and substance use. A comprehensive search of sociology (e.g. ProQuest Sociology), psychology (e.g. PsycInfo) and health (e.g. ProQuest Family Health) electronic abstraction databases was conducted for the period 1990–2014. Search terms included ‘out‐of‐home care’, ‘transition’, ‘housing’, ‘education’, ‘employment’, ‘mental health’ and ‘substance use’. Nineteen studies, all from the United States, met the inclusion criteria and were included in the meta‐analysis. Living independently and homelessness were the most commonly described housing outcomes. Rates of post‐transition employment varied, while rates of post‐secondary education were low. Depression and alcohol use were commonly reported among transitioning youth. Findings of the meta‐analysis showed that attention should be given to the potential benefit of transitional programme participation on outcomes such as housing, employment and education. Moderator analyses showed that these benefits may differ based on study design, sample size and sampling unit, but not for mean age or gender. Detailed and rigorous research is needed internationally to examine the characteristics of transitional programmes resulting in more successful outcomes for youth, and whether these outcomes are sustained longitudinally.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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