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Youth transitioning and transitioned out of child and youth care centres: perspectives of youth, family, caregivers and service providers in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal.

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This qualitative study, conducted in the eThekwini Metropolitan area, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), was designed primarily to understand the perceptions and experiences of youth transitioning and those who had transitioned out of Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) within two years. Thematic analysis of interviews with a purposive sample of youth as principal participants traced their views and experiences from entry into care until their exit, and their post-exit experiences. Family caregivers/significant others and service providers were included to obtain multiple perspectives on the planning and the preparation for the transition and aftercare support. Such data triangulation provided for a holistic understanding of structural impediments and facilitating factors of youth transitioning out of CYCCs. The study contributes to emerging care-leaving research in the national and international discourse on youth transitioning out of CYCCs. Empirical evidence reveals that youth are unprepared for transitioning out of CYCCs and that they experience poor outcomes. They are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society whose preparation for exit should, but rarely commences during entry into care. Although CYCCs facilitate dependency by their very structure and operation when youth transition out, mostly at 18 years, their childhood reaches a grinding, abrupt halt. Their immediate and spontaneous graduation into adulthood requires their fulfilment of “adult” roles, without a safety net, stripped of rights and entitlement that were afforded to them in care. Their challenges are compounded by expectations to return to an environment of chronic poverty, unemployment, poor education, discrimination, high rates of crime, violence and HIV and AIDs. Comparatively, their counterparts’ transitioning from their homes are supported and gradual, based on their readiness. The study proposes further research and recommends strengthening policies, legislation and resources for continuous services that improve the life chances of children and youth at CYCCs, aftercare services and the prevention of entry into CYCCs.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.