Empowering Youth Leaving Care at 18: Learnings from Providing Aftercare Services

Catalysts for Social Action and A Future for Every Child

This paper describes an approach to supporting young people leaving Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in India that is potentially scalable to children in all CCIs. Based on a collaboration between Catalysts for Social Action (CSA), an NGO in Mumbai, and A Future for Every Child (AFEC), a non-profit registered in the US, the Bridge to Adulthood (B2A) program has helped 327 care leavers (CLs) from June 2016-December 2019.

The program has the following broad components

1. Recruiting Care Leavers: The B2A program enrolls CLs from 60+ CCIs which are already partnering with CSA for a range of programs. B2A also accepts CLs from other unaffiliated CCIs, as well as CLs who have already been de-institutionalized and residing in Aftercare homes

2. Preparatory Life Skills Training: This covers a range of topics such as Healthy Life Choices, Conversational English and Financial Literacy

3. Aftercare Services: Program Officers (POs) provide career counselling and work with CLs to create an actionable career plan based on their aptitude and interests. CLs are guided towards one of the educational paths listed below and are fully funded for the duration of the course, including tuition, accommodation, food and other expenses

a. Short-term skill training, 3-6 months (Sales, General Admin, Hospitality)

b. Long-term skill training, longer than 6 months, up to 2 years (Paramedics, Graphic Design, Fitter, Auto Mechanic)

c. Higher education leading to a degree, longer than 2 years (Computers, Electrical Engineering, Social Work)

4. Mentoring: Program Officers monitor the CLs while they are studying to make sure they stay motivated and have all the resources they need. CLs also get help for job placement, and are further mentored for another 2 years after job placement. This helps ensure a CL is firmly on the path to self-sufficiency. CLs are also enrolled in a peer support network.