The transition from institutional care to adulthood and independence : a social services professional and institutional caregiver perspective in Harare, Zimbabwe

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Child Care in Practice

Publication Date



Advance publication

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adulthood, aging out, Care leavers, independence, institutional care, transitions


Much research has explored transitions into adulthood for children living in out-of-home care. However, most of these studies are concentrated in Western countries, leaving a gap of information from the Global South. This paper discusses findings from a small-scale qualitative study conducted in Harare, Zimbabwe. Semi-structured interviews with (n = 18) institutional caregivers and social workers, complemented with site observations at selected institutions for children, were conducted. Data were analyzed using thematic coding. Findings show that young people aging out from Harare’s care institutions face challenges making their transition from care into adulthood. Their age at the time of exit is turning care leavers into instant adults and, without much support, their outcomes are poor. Community attitude towards previously institutionalized young people also affects the transition because of the stigma attached. The study concludes that a lack of information about care leaver outcomes impacts on service delivery for this group. Additionally, the lack of financial and human resources hinders the support that could be provided to care leavers, in the form of transitional housing or family support after successful reunification.



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Funding Information

This work was supported by Irish Aid, through the Kader Asmal Fellowship for postgraduate study in Ireland.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2018 The Child Care in Practice Group. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

The study was done in fulfillment of the M.Sc. in Social Policy at University College Cork, Ireland.

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Recommended Citation

Gwenzi, G. D. (2018). The transition from institutional care to adulthood and independence: A social services professional and institutional caregiver perspective in Harare, Zimbabwe. Child Care in Practice, Advance publication, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/13575279.2017.1414034