My Path towards living on my own: voices of youth leaving Dutch secure residential care
Publication of Innovations in Care
I. Bramsen, C.H.Z. Kuiper, C.P. Willemse, M. Cardol, | Article | Publication date: 16 July 2018
Youth departing from secure youth care are often not well prepared for living on their own. This study aims to provide more insight into youth’s perspectives on what they need to improve their chances for successful return to and participation in Dutch society. The study is a ﬁrst necessary step on a journey to develop a tool for these youth to evaluate the development of autonomy and participation. We chose for a participatory research methodology. Youth participated as co-researchers in all steps of the research. Sixteen adolescents aged 15–20 years participated in open in-depth interviews using an autobiographical life story method. They were treated as partners and future owners of the tool to be developed. The interviews were transcribed and analysed. Realizing trustworthy social bonds appeared essential for developing autonomy. Youth started to move when they were socially connected and had found out what they value. Then they started “to do their thing” and “to ﬁnd their own path”, which was their language for experiencing autonomy. An interesting new ﬁnding was the importance of rest for youth to enable them to develop self-insight and to ﬁnd their own path. The ﬁndings imply that staﬀ in secure residential care should invite youth to develop their own ideas about their life and future, stimulate exploration and reﬂection, and a dialogue with people around them. Opportunity for acting, trying and doing is also needed, so that youth can discover in practice what works for them.