Orphan Youth Project: The Transitions Initiative
The Center for the Human Rights of Children in partnership with the International Organization for Adolescents
Orphan youth are often placed within childcare institutions where they will stay for many years, usually until they are too old to continue receiving support. Upon exit, they are often forced to begin the transition into adulthood without the proper resources or knowledge of their environment and face immense challenges and risks. Longitudinal research has shown that, of all the identifiable groups in society, young people who have been in care are the most likely to experience poor outcomes in adult life. Care leavers are extremely vulnerable to homelessness, human trafficking, sexual and labor exploitation, depression, and recruitment by gangs or militant groups.
CHRC affiliate faculty Dr. Anita Thomas from Loyola's School of Education and Dr. Julia Pryce from the School of Social Work, alongside of several undergraduate and graduate students at LUC, have been working with the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) to evaluate and improve upon programs used to address the needs of young adults aging out of orphanages in Ethiopia and in other countries (e.g., Cambodia, Nepal).
In 2011, IOFA conducted a needs assessment in Ethiopa, which focused on identifying the strengths, needs, and risks of orphaned and vulnerable adolescents who are transitioning to independence. They published a preliminary report of their findings: The Transitions Initiative: Youth Aging Out of Alternative Care
The next step of the project is to analyze data collected from focus groups (conducted during the summer of 2011 and 2012) with young adults aging out of orphanages and facing homelessness, sex trafficking, and unemployment, among other concerns. The project hopes to use findings from this analysis to inform efforts and research that can be used to improve services for these young people.