Female care leavers' journey to young adulthood from residential care in South Africa: Gender‐specific psychosocial processes of resilience

Joyce Hlungwani & Adrian D. van Breda - Child & Family Social Work


The journey from care to young adulthood is often accompanied by many challenges, making care leavers one of society's most vulnerable populations. Although research on young people leaving residential care is gaining increased attention globally, there is limited research that focuses on female care leavers. This article describes the psychosocial resilience processes that facilitate successful transitioning of young women as they journey out of residential care towards young adulthood. The methodology employed is a modified replication of a previous study with young men, with the aim of determining whether women utilize resilience processes in the journey out of care that are different from men. A sample of nine female care leavers was purposively selected and interviewed. Data were analysed using grounded theory methods. The findings indicate that although similar resilience processes are found in both male and female care leavers, there are also resilience processes that are specific to women, notably embracing motherhood and taking on responsibilities. It is concluded that resilience‐building programmes for young people leaving care should attend both to males and females together and also address issues specific to the care transition of women.