Transitioning to Adulthood: Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young People Leaving Care. A qualitative study in Hamburg.
Abstract: International research has shown that care leavers face a series of complex transition tasks on their way to adulthood. They have to master these with less emotional and financial support than their peers with access to family support. Consequently they are at higher risk of homelessness, unemployment and social exclusion. Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people leaving care face additional challenges due to their status as refugees with often un-regularized residence permits. Research findings suggest that a sound pathway planning can facilitate a more successful transition. This study explores how social workers structure the care leaving process for unaccompanied asylum seeking young people in Germany. It aims to determine external structural factors influencing this process and how the young people are perceived in terms of skills and resources as well as in terms of access to social capital. For this purpose nine semi structured interviews with social workers were conducted. The social workers identify a lack of guidelines and structure in the care leaving process. Furthermore they illustrate difficulties in facilitating a successful transition due to a severe lack of housing, the asylum process and the unpredictability of decisions of the funding agencies. The uncertainty of the young people’s stay in Germany due to pending asylum decisions additionally leads to mental health problems in the transition for the young people. The social workers perceive the young people as generally well equipped with skills and resources. However they illustrate how these skills are neglected in the German system. They further describe the young people as rich in bonding social capital but as lacking access to bridging social capital. The social workers in this study see themselves as responsible for facilitating this bridging form of social capital but describe their struggle in trying to enable this.
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