Young people who are taken up into the care system (including foster, formal kinship and residential or group care) traditionally have to leave care at age 18, the generally accepted age of adulthood. Research globally has shown that most youth are not ready to transition to independent living at 18 and require additional support into early adulthood. One specific type of support that has gained increasing interest is extended care arrangements, including permitting young people to remain in their care placements beyond the age of 18. While widely discussed, there is a limited body of literature on the conceptualisation, implementation and evaluation of extended care, and almost no cross-national dialogue on extended care. This article aims to gather together a range of experiences on extended care and to explore the extent to which there is a cross-national consensus on the conceptualisation and operationalisation of extended care. Ten countries participated in the study, reviewing their country’s extended care policy, practice and research using a common matrix. Findings reveal adoption of aspects of extended care in all countries, wide variations in how extended care is conceptualised, legislated, funded and implemented, and very little research on the effectiveness of extended care. The authors recommend resolving cross-national variations in the conceptualisation of extended care and further research on the role and contribution of extended care placements to improved outcomes for youth in diverse social, political and economic contexts.

Extended care, Aftercare, Leaving care, Youth transitions, Foster care, Residential care,
Children and Youth Services Review

Van Breda, A.D., Munro, E., Gilligan, R., Anghel, R., Harder, A.T, Incarnato, M., … Støro, J. (2020). Global dialogue about the extension of care beyond the age of 18. Children and Youth Services Review. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105596