When youth in child care institutions in Sri Lanka reach the age of 18, they are
Required by the country’s law to part with their care homes and live independently as an adult. It is evident that most youth aging out of residential/institutional care (‘care leavers’) are not prepared for this transition. As such, these youth must be afforded opportunities to develop essential skills and a strong support network. Without such development, they often encounter mental health issues, unemployment, delinquency, abuse, substance dependency and homelessness. At present, State mechanisms to support care leavers do not exist, whether it be a legal or policy framework, institutional commitment, resources or services, and they remain an invisible group of youth to the public as well as the State. SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka has had much success in supporting youth to thrive as independent adults through the provision of continued support beyond the age of 18. From this experience, we recommend State parties establish a system that provides preparation while in care and affords aftercare support to empower youth leaving care, helping them confront the exigencies of an independent life. Firstly, we propose the development of youth services to plan departure and prepare for independent living. Secondly, we propose the establishment of a range of aftercare services, including financial and networking support and a monitoring mechanism to ensure effective delivery. Thirdly, we propose the development of staff/carrer capacity to better support youth in this transition. Fourthly, we propose a system for information collection, management and tracking the state of care leavers in Sri Lanka.
SOS Children’s Village has initiated the 18+ Alliance to support youth care leavers. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon represents the Advisory Board specially to support the care leavers with disabilities.
Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:
1 Manique and Ayasana.