Anchors for deliberation and shared deliberation: Understanding planning in young adults transitioning from out-of-home care

Peter Appleton - Qualitative Social Work


This theoretical paper focuses on early-stage planning in young adults in transition from out-of-home care. The theoretical approach builds on philosophical accounts of planning and shared planning by Michael Bratman and Jennifer Morton; previous research on care leavers’ experience; and findings from two recent qualitative studies of planning in care leavers in the UK. There are three central proposals of the paper. First, that if we focus on a young person’s deliberations about what matters (‘anchors for deliberation’), or what is important – to her or him – we may better understand the early stages of planning. Second, that social-cooperative or shared deliberations may be of special importance in understanding and supporting the early stages of planning in young people leaving care, partly because of the severe disruptions to social relationships that may have afflicted many care leavers during their earlier development. Third, that it may also be important to understand young people’s standpoints on planning norms, in both individual and social-cooperative contexts, given some young people’s subjection to repeated violation of norms. After introducing Bratman’s and Morton’s work, we suggest three categories of early-stage planning: specific anchors, policy-based anchors (including self-reliance, and ‘I don’t plan’), and anchors for the provisional future. Implications of the theoretical approach for research and practice are outlined. The paper aims to contribute to a theoretical basis for collaborative transition-planning (or ‘pathway planning’ in the UK) with young adults leaving care.