Predictors of life satisfaction among care leavers: A mixed-method longitudinal study

Tehila Refaeli*, Rami Benbenishty, Anat Zeira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Most studies on young people aging-out of residential care (care leavers) have examined their situation in various post-care life domains (e.g. education, employment), but their subjective well-being, particularly life satisfaction, has been neglected. Here we focus on life satisfaction among care leavers four years after leaving care in Israel. Mixed-methods and longitudinal approaches were used to identify personal and social factors contributing to life satisfaction. The quantitative sample included 222 young people who were interviewed at three time points (T1-T3): on the verge of leaving care, one year later and four years after leaving care. Sixteen narrative interviews were conducted at T3. Both methods showed that personal resources, parental and peer support contributed to life satisfaction. The qualitative findings highlighted the complexity of care leavers’ relationships with their birth parents. The interviews also demonstrated the potential contribution of other types of resources including siblings, romantic partners and stable formal support from practitioners in residential care and in the community. The findings suggest that to enhance care leavers’ life satisfaction, practitioners’ interventions should focus on empowering them to enhance their personal resources. In addition, the birth parents of some of the care-leavers had harmful relationships with their children and need various types of intervention to help them become a source of support for their child.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)146-155
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Birth parents
  • Care leavers
  • Life satisfaction
  • Personal resources
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social support


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