Transition to adulthood is a complex phenomenon, yielding varying outcomes for young people in different environments. Hence, adolescent girls transitioning from institutional care are a heterogeneous group with varying transition experiences and livelihood outcomes. Studies suggest that adolescents leaving care have less desirable outcomes compared to their counterparts in familial care (Vaughn, Shook & McMillen, 2008). Therefore, adolescents in the institutional context need specialised transition programmes as they traverse to adulthood and independent living (Storm, Porter & Macaulay, 2010:307). Unfortunately, institutions fail to provide well-structured and gender-sensitive transition programmes that promote the achievement of sustainable livelihoods during and after leaving care (Powell, 2006:143). As a consequence, adolescents are vulnerable to negative social and economic outcomes beyond institutional care.
The goal of the study was to evaluate the effects of transition programmes on the livelihood outcomes of adolescent girls post institutional care in Highfield, Harare.
This study, which is participatory action research, evaluated the transitions and livelihood outcomes of adolescent girls transitioning from two institutions in Highfield, Harare. To conceptualise the transition phenomena, sustainable livelihoods and feminist theoretical frameworks were applied. Mixed methods approaches were used and qualitative as well as quantitative data were collected, analysed and interpreted concurrently. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirty-two adolescent girls, two superintendents and a district social services officer. Focus group discussions were held with participants from Institutions A and B and observations made on their counterparts discharged from the same institutions. A gender assessment questionnaire was administered to superintendents to establish whether the programmes being provided were gender-sensitive.
Findings from the study showed that adolescent girls in the two institutions have access to more assets (55.55%) compared to those outside with 49.2%. Hence, adolescent girls leaving institutional care lose 6.35% assets, making them poorer than their counterparts in care. Adolescent girls in the institutional context face increased gender-based constraints resulting in limited access to livelihood opportunities. Findings also indicate that adolescent girls living in resource-constrained institutions and households have more complex and harder transitions compared to those in well-resourced institutions and households.
The study concluded that the transition programmes being provided are not adequately preparing adolescent girls for life beyond care and they are also not gender-sensitive. Thus, they have a negative impact on the transitions and livelihood outcomes of adolescent girls. Furthermore, stakeholders in the transition process lack financial and human resources to develop and implement gender-responsive transition policies and programmes, thereby affecting adolescent girls’ access to different kinds of livelihood assets.
To facilitate successful transitions, this study recommends the development of gender-sensitive transition policies, transformation of the case management system and more investments in participatory policy development, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of transition programmes.
Case management system
Sustainable Livelihoods Approach