Transition to adulthood from foster care in Spain: A biographical approach

Rita Gradaille, Carme Montserrat, Lluís Ballester - Children and Youth Services Review


The goal of the article is to analyze the characteristics and experiences of youths when they leave care and their first years in transition from foster care to adulthood. The study design was based in in-depth face-to-face interviews in two sessions to collect life stories and content analysis. Participants were thirty-two young people who left care in 4 Autonomous Communities in Spain (Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Madrid and Galicia).

The results highlight that socio-biographic profile of the young people shows formative and life pathways marked by instability, situations of abuse and neglect within the family and later entering foster care. The second block of results refers to their life history within foster care, where their relationship with their family of origin is a key influencing factor and peer groups are highlighted as a protective factor and contributor to building resilience. The severity of rules often appears as highly criticized and, social labeling is interpreted as greatly hindering their social, formative and work integration.

The third set of results, centered on the socio-educational intervention of the social educators in foster care centers, stands as a key aspect for overcoming victimization and for strengthening empowerment.

The final block of results refers to the process of transition to adulthood from foster care, which will depend both on the work done before the age of 18 in foster care centers and on the resources that support them after.