Kapitel 3: Alternative Fürsorge
3. Alternative care

3.b Care Leaver

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3.a Alternative care facilities and foster families

The child and youth support services today do not adequately take into account the characteristics of modern-day youth, which include a longer youth phase, longer education pathways and longer economic dependence on parents. This affects the lives of youths in alternative care, which is where relationships and social infrastructures designed to strengthen the rights of young people in ‘alternative care’ transitioning into adulthood are developed. The restrictions on aid granted after a person’s 18th birthday – even though the German Youth Welfare Act stipulates support up to the age of 27 in some cases – jeopardise young people’s rights to protection. The ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’ from 2010 establish the official responsibility for providing social networks during transition phases.

Right from adolescence, and particularly once someone has reached the age of 18, the percentage of young people in care facilities drops sharply. Accelerated transition from alternative care, which often starts before a person’s 18th birthday, results in precarious living circumstances for young people. The key challenges faced by adolescents would otherwise be different, e.g. positioning themselves, gaining qualifications, and becoming independent. The prospect of having to leave the care facility and the associated social support systems at the age of 18 also has negative repercussions on adolescents in alternative care. The considerable uncertainties regarding the future make it tremendously difficult to concentrate on age-based development tasks and emotional stabilisation, especially for unaccompanied refugee minors.

The situation of young people without ‘alternative care’ is very different in that they are moving out of home later and later on average. Over the last 10 years, the age for commencing vocational training has been pushed back by about a year, and is now almost 20. Families often take on the inevitable task of looking after and assisting their adult children. The vast majority of care leavers do not have this family support and security if they are left to be ‘independent’ without any further assistance. The lack of a publicly guaranteed care relationship for care leavers, which would be equivalent to the care provided by family, leaves them at a clear disadvantage.

  • The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
  • 82. Take measures to ensure no young person leaves alternative care without a school certificate, training placement or a job to meet their basic needs;
  • 83. Guarantee young people’s entitlement to mandatory continuation of support services in cases where this is necessary to secure their future prospects;
  • 84. Develop a proper system to assist young people, including young refugees, during their transition from alternative care, and provide reliable after-care and options for return;
  • 85. Support self-organised care-leaver associations structurally and financially, and involve them in decision-making processes.
Previous Chapter
3.a Alternative care facilities and foster families