Defining and Measuring Indicators of Successful Transitions for Youth Aging Out of Child Welfare Systems: A Scoping Review and Narrative Synthesis

Sabrina Agnihotri, Caroline Park, Roland Jones, Deborah Goodman, Mitesh Patel

Youth aging out of child welfare systems face an abrupt transition to adulthood and expectation for self-sufficiency with few supports. The current study represents a scoping review and narrative synthesis that sought to identify indicators used to measure the success of aging out youth and their corresponding methods of assessment. A database search was conducted and 150 articles were included in the review. Results revealed eight broad indicators of successful transitions, including: education, employment, basic needs, social support and relationships, conduct and victimization, health, general living skills, and resilience and psychological empowerment.

As a larger category, health was broken down into five subdomains of physical, mental health symptoms, reproductive/sexual health, substance use, and access to care/service utilization. Findings highlight the need for comprehensive tools and strengths-based approaches to assessing transitional gaps earlier in the aging out process. Given the interdependency of indicator outcomes, fulsome measurement can provide a window into a youth’s future concerns.