Young People Living in Residential Care in Estonia: Pathways to Further and Higher Education

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: Educational outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care are internationally well researched. Relatively less is known about the basis for their choice of educational pathway. The aim of this degree report is to determine the different influences behind educational choices of young people in residential care. This research is based on the qualitative data analysis from eleven semi-structured individual interviews with young people who live in residential care in Estonia. Three expert interviews were conducted for an additional overview of the Estonian out-of-home care system. Findings of this study suggest that the educational choices of young people in residential care are mainly based on their interest in the speciality. However, factors such as distance from the residential care home, difficulty of studies and role models also influence their choices. Decision participation in relation to educational pathway tends to contribute to higher self-motivation. Participants described four main types of external motivators: 1) interesting lessons and supportive teachers; 2) grades; 3) disciplining by the caregivers; and 4) positive encouragement. Strong social capital plays an important role for the support in relation to educational pathway. Education is considered as a ticket to better life than their parents have had. The financial support from the state, local governments and other sources is not considered as a barrier on the educational pathway. Estonian out-of-home care system and specifically residential care have valuable practices which help young people to concentrate on their studies. The state is moving towards family-based or family-like placements which increase the quality of out-of-home care and prepares for a better support on the educational pathway.

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