Are there indicators for children and adolescents who prematurely end their stays in residential care?

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  • Thea Rau
  • Sophia Mayer
  • Vera Kiesel
  • Jeannine Ohlert
  • Jörg M. Fegert
  • Ferdinand Keller

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A significant number of children and adolescents living in residential care facilities in Germany end their stays in such institutions earlier than planned. There is a variety of risk factors for these premature departures. So far, it has not been established whether children and adolescents exhibit observable and measurable signs that would indicate that they intend to end their stay early. The study analyzed data from 680 children and adolescents residing in youth welfare institutions with an eye toward identifying indicators that preceded such unplanned early departures. Approximately 15.6% of those children and adolescents in the study left the residential care facility on their own volition; overall, 46.5% of stays ended earlier than planned. Those children and adolescents who left their respective institutions prematurely rated their quality of life lower in the months before their unplanned departure and also reported less satisfying relationships with their caregivers and peers than other children and adolescents. Additionally, these children and adolescents felt less of a sense of belonging to the care facility, were more dissatisfied with the opportunities for participation and the transparency in the institution than others, and exhibited more mental health issues. These results demonstrate that unplanned early departures from residential care facilities are often preceded by indicators related to social integration and quality of life. The study discusses implications for dealing with such indicators and recommendations for lowering the number of unplanned premature departures from residential care facilities in the youth welfare system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105450
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number118
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2020

ID: 5536425

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