Youth Leaving Institutional Care in China: Stress, Coping Mechanisms, Problematic Behaviors, and Social Support

Meirong Liu, Fei Sun, Saijun Zhang, Shaozhen Tan, Steve Anderson, Jing Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study aims to provide an initial depiction of youth aging out of institutional care in China. Services for children cared in state child welfare institutes have been improving in the past decades in China. Lately, there is increasing consensus about the need for further understanding and alleviating challenges faced by youth who are aging out of the institutional care and transitioning to adulthood. Programs aimed at providing transitional services and support for these youth have emerged. However, research on the wellbeing of youth aging out of institutional care in China has been virtually non-existent. The study used survey data from 65 youth in one state child welfare institute to examine the characteristics and wellbeing of aging out foster youth, including their socio-demographic characteristics, independent living skills, sources of stress, coping mechanisms, behavioral problems, and social support. The youth faced financial difficulties and challenges in career planning and employment activities. They reported future self-expectations and economic hardships as major stress sources, and often referred to withdrawal as an anti-stress coping strategy. They were also identified with prevalent problematic behaviors and viewed social welfare agencies and friends as major sources of social support. This study shed light on the profile of youth aging out of institutional care in China. The results indicated that the youth reported unmet needs that require policy and practice attention. The findings are useful in informing social policies and interventions on developing support services for the youth transition to adulthood and independent living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Aging out youth
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Independent living
  • Problematic behaviors
  • Social support
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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