The Contribution of Supportive Relationships to Care-leaving Outcomes: A Longitudinal Resilience Study in South Africa

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6 Citations (Scopus)


While supportive relationships are important for probably everyone and while research indicates that supportive relationships contribute towards improved care-leaving outcomes for young people who grew up in care, there is no research that shows their contribution year by year over the first several years out of care. The aim of this study is to fill this gap, drawing on a sample of 100 residential care-leavers in South Africa, who were followed-up annually for as long as seven years. This paper presents quantitative findings from this study, viz. measures of 13 relational resilience resources just before aging out of care and 19 care-leaving outcomes (such as self-supporting accommodation, criminal activity and well-being) collected annually for up to seven years. Findings show that supportive relationships are particularly influential on care-leaving outcomes over the first three years out of care, and that their impact continues to be evident up to seven years. The study also shows the importance of the relational capacity of young people, such as empathy and teamwork. In light of these findings and other longitudinal studies on the contribution of supportive relationships to adult outcomes, a triangle of support is proposed, involving the relational capacity of young people, the availability of supportive others and the role of formal social services. When these three sides of the triangle operate optimally, sustained resilient outcomes are evident.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Care in Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Leaving care
  • aging out of care
  • resilience
  • social ecology
  • social skills
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
  • Health (social science)
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics
  • Community and Home Care


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