CELCIS Education Forum Highlights, October 2022.png

Emerging adulthood: Exploring the implications for Scotland's care experienced young people and those who care for, and support them


Kenny McGheeThroughcare and Aftercare Lead at CELCIS explores the notions and concepts around 'emerging adulthood', what this might mean for Scotland's care experienced young people, and how the people that support them can help to improve their experiences, provisions and outcomes as they transition from care to adulthood and independence.

Societally, the transition to adulthood can be a longer process now than it was a few years ago. Many young people, through choice or necessity, live longer with their parents or carers, and benefit from ongoing practical and financial support. This may include housing and living expenses, but also emotional and relational support and security.

In some cases, this has let to young people becoming less autonomous, self-sufficient, and 'independent' at an earlier age than previous generations. Adolescence generally is being drawn out as young people stay in school longer and have more difficulty in entering the job market. However, these changing social demographic patterns are not consistent across society as a whole.

In Scotland, the average age for leaving care remains stubbornly around 17, compared to 25+ for non-care experienced young people. Although moving out and moving on can be a big step for any young person, care experienced young people still tend to make the transitions to 'independent' living at an earlier age and stage than their peers, often having to deal with unresolved trauma, added adversities and navigate a much more arduous developmental process without the security of ongoing practical and relational support.

We need to consider this when we talk about 'poorer outcomes' and 'outcome gaps' for care experienced young people. Too often, care experienced young people are judged against the societal norm when they may have had to traverse an arduous developmental process and then move on to have their outcomes measured against some normative ideal with very little accommodation of difference. Closing the 'outcomes gap' will only be achieved if we close the input gap - and that must include ensuring we set the care of our young people in the context of emerging adulthood, designing our care, services, and supports to meet care experienced young people's needs.

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Read more about emerging adulthood

About the Education Forum

At CELCIS, we are privileged to convene and coordinate a free, open-access network of practitioners and leaders who are involved or interested in the education of children with experience of care, and their families. We encourage and facilitate opportunities for practitioners to come together in a reflective, challenging and enabling space.

Membership is free and open to anyone with an interest in this area of education. We have members who are students, foster carers, health visitors, teachers and academics - so many different roles are represented.

To find out more about the Forum, visit the Education Forum webpage