KIHASA in the News

Youth in Transition from State Care to Self-reliance Have a Very Low Level of Life Satisfaction

  • Media Date : 2021-10-14
  • News Media : Naeil News
  • Hits 160

Translated from The Naeil News

Youth in Transition from State Care to Independent Living Turn Out To Have a Very Low Level of Life Satisfaction.

It is the lowest for those in 3rd or 4th year in transition; there is a lack of psychological and emotional support.


A study found that youth over 18 who have left state care have a very low level of life satisfaction. In particular, their life satisfaction level was at its lowest in their third or fourth year out of care. A high proportion of them have even thought about taking their own life. An expert pointed out that there should be a psychological and emotional support system for them and that the existing social network for these young people should be expanded. Currently, there are approximately 13,000 young people who are registered with the follow-up services under the Child Welfare Act as they have aged out of state care.

The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) published on October 13 Health and Welfare Issue & Focus, No. 410, “Key Issues regarding the Support of Youth in Transition from State Care to Self-reliance,” based on its policy monograph 2020-114 titled the "Survey of Living Conditions and Needs of Young People Leaving Care for Independence,” whose lead author is Lee Sang-Jung, head of the Center for Child Welfare Research, KIHASA.

"Indicators show that youth over 18 in transition from state care to self-reliance are worse off than other young people in terms of health, psychologicl and emotional statuses, social relationships, housing, education, employment, and economic conditions," says Dr. Lee. She stressed the importance of continued support for these young people for their successful transition to an independent life. She said that youth who have left state care are very vulnerable psychologically and emotionally as they face many challenges in making the transition to independence and adulthood, and pointed out a lack of a psycho-emotional support system and of social networks for them to rely on.

According to Lee, 61.6 percent of these young people live alone, a figure that is higher than for other young people, for they have no parents or other family to support them. Because the level of social support for these youth is lower than when they were in state care and their relationship with social workers or foster parents tends to taper off over time, said Lee, it is all the more important to have in place a follow-up service that can provide them with socioeconomic and psycho-emotional support.

Life satisfaction among youth out of care was at its lowest point in their third or fourth year of transition, a period marked also by a high prevalence of suicidal thoughts. A high proportion of these youth had experienced housing vulnerability in their fourth or fifth year of transition. Employment and economic indicators, such as unemployment rate, cost of living, and debt level, pointed to a worsening of circumstances for youth in their third to fifth year after leaving care.

The government, in response, expressed its will to improve its follow-up support system for youth leaving care, including a plan to put in place self-reliance support agencies nationwide and to recruit 120 workers who would work for these agencies for supporting youth in their transition to independence. However, it has not yet put forward any specific plans to integrate or connect the existing youth self-reliance support programs or service providers, or to support local governments in establishing the agencies.

Lee made the following policy recommendations: the aftercare system for youth leaving care should be considered as a part of the continuum of the child protective system from a life cycle perspective; there should be a self-reliance support agency in each of 17 cities and provinces and a national entity that governs these agencies, so that service gaps between regions and systems can be reduced; and there should be sufficient manpower reinforcement to provide effective services to youth leaving state care for independent life.

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