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Young care leavers' expectations of their future: A question of time horizon

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


This paper investigates young care leavers' expectations of their future after discharge from care. The results are based on qualitative longitudinal data where 16‐ to 21‐year‐old care leavers (n = 15) were interviewed twice, first when still in care but planning for their discharge (T1) and the second time 6–9 months later (T2). The analysis using a general inductive approach showed that their expectations were dependent on the time horizon and that there was an obvious difference between the young informants' short‐ and long‐term expectations. Their short‐term expectations consisted of worries connected to their approaching discharge (at T1) and how to cope with challenges of everyday life after discharge from care (at T2). These results seem to echo negative outcomes shown in previous quantitative research. However, the informants' long‐term expectations provide a different picture, being mainly positive in both interviews (T1 and T2). The results are discussed from a life course perspective, where the informants' visions of their future are framed and understood in terms of the different stages of their transition process.