Children enter state care because their parents are unable to care for them or because of abuse and neglect. Invariably they experience considerable distress and emotional trauma with many having clinically significant mental health problems. Few, however, receive the assessment, counselling and supportive services that they need. When they leave care, many experience extensive problems including mental health difficulties, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, relationship difficulties and lack of social support.
This paper will discuss the findings of a qualitative study utilising in-depth interviews with young people who have been in state care. Illustrations of their pathways to and from care will highlight their experiences, and direct quotations from the participants will provide particular insights into the complex issues they have had to confront.
The paper will outline key opportunities for prevention and intervention approaches at various points along these pathways.