Care leavers, young people who have aged out of residential or foster care, experience many challenges during their transition to adulthood. However, there is relatively little research on care leavers' intimate relationships. Their parenthood has been explored to a greater extent, but mostly qualitatively.
This study focused on Israeli care leavers a decade after leaving care and explored various factors associated with satisfaction with both intimate relationships and parenthood.
One-hundred-and-fifty-two young people participated in the study ten years after leaving care. Toward the end of their 20s, 74.3% were either married or had stable intimate relationships, and 40.1% were parents. To assess satisfaction with intimate relationships and parenthood, two hierarchical regressions were conducted that examined the cumulative contribution of background factors (care variables and traumatic life events), personal characteristics (self-esteem, mental distress, and alcohol use) and social support.
Satisfaction with intimate relationships was associated with higher income, fewer traumatic life events, and higher self-esteem. Gender moderated the association of traumatic life events with satisfaction with intimate relationships. Satisfaction with parenthood was associated with fewer traumatic events throughout care leavers' lives; it was also associated with lower levels of mental distress and alcohol use and with higher levels of satisfaction with intimate relationships. Gender moderated the association of mental distress with satisfaction with parenthood.
Ten years after leaving care, care leavers' backgrounds (i.e., their traumatic life events) were strongly associated with their situation as adults. Other risk factors such as alcohol use and mental distress were especially relevant to care leavers' satisfaction as parents, demanding longitudinal interventions. Further exploration of the role of gender in satisfaction with intimate relationships and parenthood is needed.