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Independent Living Programmes for Improving Outcomes for Young People Leaving the Care System


Donkoh C. Underhill K. and Montgomery P.

Subject Keywords: Young people, Care system, Independant living, Foster care
Catalogue: Systematic Reviews
Campbell Reviews
Type: Article
Region: International (other)

This review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of independent living programmes (ILPs), a widespread and varied group of programmes intended to improve outcomes for foster care (looked-after) youth leaving the care system. There is evidence that of the many thousands of young people who are discharged from care each year, a sizeable number lack the life skills or resources necessary to succeed independently. Compared to the general population, these young adults face much higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, dependency on public assistance, physical and mental health problems, and involvement with the criminal justice system. ILPs, which incorporate independent living skills training, personal development, and educational and vocational support, are one strategy to improve these outcomes.

So as to incorporate only the highest-quality evidence, this review was limited to randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials that assessed the effectiveness of ILPs for young people leaving the care system. Outcomes of interest included educational attainment, employment, health, housing, and other relevant life skills outcomes. After an exhaustive search, no study was found that met our criteria. The primary reason for excluding studies was the lack of a randomised or quasi-randomised design. Eighteen studies utilising nonrandom comparisons, one-group longitudinal designs, or qualitative methodology were identified and are detailed in the table of excluded studies. The results of these studies generally favoured ILP participants for the outcomes of interest; however, their weak methodology makes it difficult to draw any firm or reliable inferences for policy and practice. On the whole, adverse effects were rarely observed.



Rights: © The authors
Suggested citation:

Donkoh C. Underhill K. and Montgomery P.. (2017) Independent Living Programmes for Improving Outcomes for Young People Leaving the Care System [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th March 2019].


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