There is growing interest in the long-term impact of institutional care during childhood and/or adolescence. Studies indicate that residential care is associated with poor adult outcomes, including health and mental health problems, lower educational attainment and serious emotional and behavioral difficulties. This is, to our knowledge, the first qualitative study οn a Greek sample.
The aim of the present study was to provide understanding into the past and present experiences of individuals who had resided in a child-care institution during their childhood and/or adolescence and to contribute to the study of the long-term impact of institutional care on adult life.
In depth interviews were conducted with 15 individuals (men and women) who had lived in a child-care institution during their childhood and/or adolescence, followed by qualitative thematic analysis.
Analysis revealed three distinct cohorts of participants, based on their current age and the time period during which they were placed at the institution. Systematic comparison of the three cohorts revealed that independent living was strenuous and challenging and that, although institutional practices ameliorate, the social and emotional needs of the looked after children and their families become increasingly complex.
Continuous training and support of the personnel of the institutions, a well-planned transitional period with the active involvement of the individuals, as well as systematic follow-ups, seem necessary in order to ensure better adult outcomes.