The Poverty of Policy: Examining Care Leaving Policy in Ethiopia

Anduamlak Molla Takele, Messay Gebremariam Kotecho, Philip Mendes - Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond


International research consistently shows that young care leavers’ journey from care to emerging adulthood is characterised by adversities such as unemployment, poor academic performance, homelessness, involvement in criminal activities, mental illness and early parenthood. As research evidence points out, such negative outcomes are closely linked with the existence of multiple placements, lack of mentoring, limited connections with significant others, the absence of early preparation to leave care, and a dearth of or inadequate policy frameworks that entitle care leavers to use aftercare support schemes. In order to support care leavers’ transition from care to emerging adulthood, Global North countries have implemented an independent care leaving policy framework that serves as a scaffolding for challenges that would arise from care leavers’ exploration of the adult world upon leaving care. However, such experience in formulation of policy to empower care leavers to be an independent adult is not well developed in countries in Global South due to the infant nature of research on care leaving and a preference for addressing the issues of care leavers in the existing child policy frameworks rather than formulating a special policy that deals with care leaving. The status of Ethiopia in this regard is not different. Existing policy frameworks concerning children have failed to address the needs of Ethiopian care leavers despite the existence of over five million orphan and vulnerable children in the country most of whom are placed in institutional childcare centres. This article presents the case for an independent care leaving policy in Ethiopia to address the multifaceted needs of children in care and improve the care leaving service in the country. Thus, the study will shed light on the state of care leaving policy in the world and lessons for Ethiopia to support Ethiopia’s attempt to serve the most vulnerable children in care by developing its own care leaving policy.