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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Benefits of independent living programmes

Query 1:

Hi all,

I am looking for any research or information into the benefits of small community-based placements for young people who find it difficult to manage their behaviour in a 6-bed placement. Your thoughts would be very welcome or any weblinks, readings, etc.

Gary Peebles

Query 2:

I am a fourth year student of Social Studies in Ireland and I am doing my thesis on the benefits of independent living programmes for young people transitioning from care. Currently there are no such programmes in Ireland and I believe there is a gap in the services provided in this area for young people in Ireland aged 16+.

I am looking for information and opinions on aftercare programmes 16+ in places abroad. I would also be interested in any information anyone has on articles that show the opinions of the young people who have participated in these programmes.


Jenny Kinsella

Here you go....this organization has done much work and research (with the voices of youth) on transitioning out of care:

Rick Kelly

Hey Jenny,
My name is Robin and I am in my second year of Child and Youth Counseling. I got your e mail asking about independent living programs offered for youth and there are some in Calgary Alberta. I believe these places help youth get back on track and help them acquire a sense of independence and ownership of their actions. These programs can also teach them how to be responsible, successful, and functioning adults. Some benefits to these programs are: it provides youth with a range of educational, employment, and life skills. Since these youth are unable to live at home, these independent living programs provide the youth with assistance to live alone, while still functioning as youth. Even though at 16 the youth are very vulnerable to situations, and might go down the wrong path, without these programs to give the youth a sense of ownership and responsibility for their actions, they might just be floating through other systems.

The article Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs published by US: American Psychological Association and Unlicensed residential programs and The next challenge in protecting youth published by US: Educational Publishing Foundation are good articles that explain the benefits of some programs and the positive and negative effects.

Another example of a program in Alberta that helps youth find independent living is Hope Homes and Hope Homes for Aboriginal Youth. These programs support independent living opportunities to youth 16-24 years old, experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. This may sound like an easy way out for youth who are struggling at home, but youth have to show positive progress, must have made the decision to make positive choices in their lives and be willing to attend school, obtain employment, or attend a suitable day program.

Also, I believe that independent living programs are great resources for youth because it gives them a new light to make positive changes to their lives. Since they are living away from home, it puts pressure on the youth because if they fall, they can not true around and blame it on others.

Also, I have done one of my practicum placements at an independent living program, and I found it very helpful for the youth. Even though there are boundaries and expectations, youth have to step up to the plate and make positive decisions. And if they choose to take advantage of the programs there are consequences, such as loosing the independence and having to live else where. Overall, I believe these programs should be implemented everywhere and are a good transitional step into adulthood.

Good Luck on your thesis

Robin Bax

Hey Jenny,
My name,s Allison, and I am in my second year of Child and Youth Care in Canada! I am truly surprised there is no independent living programs for young people in Ireland as I believe these programs are imperative to helping youth successfully gain life skills as well as to transition into adulthood.

In Canada there are many such programs and I am lucky enough to be doing my practicum with two. These programs are run by the Calgary John Howard Society and are focused on homeless youth more so then youth transitioning from care. These programs are Windsor Park, and Raido House. Each house is focused on helping young people learn the life skills needed to successfully transition into the community.

At Raido House, they focus more on stability and the youth are quite dependant on staff. At Windsor Park, the youth are quite independent and pay rent (which actually is a forced savings, they get the money back for a down payment or rent when they leave). Both programs focus on teaching the youth skills such as cooking and cleaning, how to respect themselves and others, how to love themselves, emotional stability and financial security. The John Howard society provides many different courses for the youth to help prepare them for the rest of their lives.

I hope this information helps you with your thesis, and if you would like to learn more about the programs the John Howard Society offers their website is-

Allison Dyke

Hi Jenny,
I totally agree with you that there is a gap in service provision for this age group. In my opinion it is fundamentally wrong that we expect young people to live independently from the age of 16. I am employed within a large Residential Care and Education Centre in Scotland. For many years it was the expectation that young people leave care when they are 16, therefore we should encourage strong action to chane the culture that assumes 16 as the age for leaving care. Thankfully within my organisation this gap has been recognised as being pivotal in young people making the transition into adulthood.

Furthermore I would like to mention the term "independent" living. No one should be expected to live independently from the age of 16. If we look at current families, without knowing the exact statistics, the average age for individuals leaving the family home is 28. Now it doesn't take a scientist to understand and accept that there would be limitless amounts of support in place throughout the time any individual was living at home. This brings me nicely onto the term "independent", I think a much more holistic term would be "interdependent" living. In Scotland right now there is a huge gap in supporting those aged 18-24. Legislation in Scotland states that every Local Authority (32 in total) should have a Throughcare and Aftercare team providing support to those leaving the care system, however that doesn't imply all individuals will embrace this service, particularly through a voluntary route.

Currently I and a few colleagues, have been seconded onto a project looking at ways of implementing a working model that will provide support in all areas of the individuals development. This is fundamental if we truly are hoping to 'reclaim youth' and include them in the overall society and not exclude them, ultimately addressing the role of the individual in a positive manner. Support's provided will include, housing, homlessness, employment/training, benefits, offending behaviour, addictions and any other supports that might be needed. This should be provided under the one umbrella, something akin to a 'one stop shop'. There will be a clear management structure, with staff providing 24hr support, including management on call. That is why I prefer the term interdependent living.

I would suggest you look at St Basil's in Birmingham England, they have a range of services throughout the city and have many of the supports in place I have suggested. I was at a recent seminar regarding homelessness, the service users provided an outline on St Basil's from their perspective, this was very encouraging and extremly positive, infact I am hoping to visit there soon.

Although the project I am involved in is only in its infancy at the moment it is alarmingly clear this is an area of paramount importance and needs addressed or we run the risk of falling into the trap of the 80's in Britain where there was a 'lost generation' due to the lack of support for this targeted group. I would welcome any comments or information on this subject from those interested.

Lastly Jenny can I draw your attention to a report compiled in 2008 from Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People entitled Sweet 16? The Age of Leaving Care in Scotland, also The Integrated Children's Services Quality Assurance Group is in the process of consulting young people and professionals in relation to all areas of service, finally (phew) if you google "How good is your Throughcare and Aftercare Service" provides relevant information.

With Regards

James Lochrie

From: []
Sent: 23 October 2009 03:12 PM

Hi Jenny,
I would echo all that James said and point you to a range of information on services across Scotland. Also the who have online copies of the reports mentioned by James. They should be able to advise on a strategic plan for developing a service.

Good luck in your important work.

Jeremy Millar

The Robert Gordon University, Scotland

Thanks you have all given me a lot of useful information here. It seems like both Scotland and Canada especially have good systems of throughcare and support for young people transitioning from care. They are definitely models to aspire to.


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