Six guidelines for successful aftercare policies.
The guidelines below support successful aftercare policies. They are based on the strengths-model of Rapp & Goscha and further substantiated by research results on leaving care.
Guideline 1: Believe that young people in care can recover, reclaim and transform their lives
- Invest in the relationship with youngsters; become ‘professionally close’ to them. Create stability in guidance (pursuit a low turnover of care workers involved in the transition of leaving care).
- Support the youngster’s ability to take their life in their own hands.
- Show them a belief in their capacities (without ignoring pitfalls and limitations).
- Focus on strengths to help young people cope with pitfalls on their path (use the ideas of positive psychology).
Guideline 2: Ensure that the focus is on individual strengths rather than on deficits
- To prepare people for life after care, they have to recognise their capacities.
- Focus on strengths, do not ignore needs and difficulties.
- Preparation for life after care, starts in care and preferably as soon as possible. Work on discovering strengths during the stay, use them to plan ahead.
Guideline 3: Use the community as an oasis of resources
- Do not lose sight of the possibilities of the surrounding of the youngster, even if they are small
- Connect the youngster to their network or help them build up one.
- Invest in their social relations, both formal and informal.
- Connect to adult care and social services, together with the youngster.
- Combine methods that train skills and methods for reinforcing and enlarging the social network
Guideline 4: Ensure that the youngsters voice is at the centre of the care process
- Listen to what they need, what they believe should be their future
- Plan their future together with the young person, so they have something to look forward to.
- Look for the condition to realise their dreams together.
- Choose the method to prepare for care together with the care leaver, put them at the steering wheel of their path.
- Be a traveling companion and point out their rights.
Guideline 5: Realise that success depends highly on the case worker – client relationship
- Invest in the relationship with youngsters; become ‘professionally close’ to them. Create stability in guidance (low turnover).
- Try to create a warm, relying network and be part of that network.
- Be clear towards the young people about their upcoming in(ter)dependence
- Build trust, so they can reach out if things turn out differently after leaving care.
Guideline 6: Raise awareness and policy support
- Raise awareness for the voice of youngsters (e.g. look for funding for a special interest group on youth care experiences)
- Call for policy to rethink laws and regulations on out-of-home care and make them (more) client friendly
- Look for funding to have ‘after care time’, housing units, …
- Improve the knowledge base by doing research and gathering data: collect data on the youngsters so there can be a better understanding on small interventions and on larger programs