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An Exploration of Complex Longitudinal Relationships Between Care Factors and Post-Care Outcomes in South Africa

  • Adrian D. van Breda (a1)


Research on young people transitioning out of the childcare system and into young adulthood is inevitably reductionist in that it is unable to take into account the many complex forces that play a role in the development of a child from birth, into and through the care system and on to adulthood. Consequently, studies on the outcomes of care-leavers need to be interpreted with care and thought. This paper serves to illustrate these challenges in research and the various ways that research results can be interpreted by drawing on data from a study being conducted in a residential care programme in South Africa. Demographic, pre-care and in-care variables of a sample of care-leavers are compared with a set of independent living outcome variables a year after aging out of care. Unanticipated results are contrasted with those that were anticipated, and multiple interpretations of the same results are provided. Because of this, the author calls for judicious and humble use of research results when making judgements about the outcomes of care-leavers and the effectiveness of child welfare interventions.


Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Prof Adrian D. van Breda, professor of social work, Department of Social Work, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa. E-mail:


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An Exploration of Complex Longitudinal Relationships Between Care Factors and Post-Care Outcomes in South Africa

  • Adrian D. van Breda (a1)


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