Care leavers as helpers: Motivations for and benefits of helping others

Eran Melkman, Yifat Mor-Salwo, Katharina Mangold, Maren Zeller, Rami Benbenishty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Much of the attention concerning youth in care focuses on the ways they are being helped and supported. This study focuses on the motivations and experiences which lead youth in care to assume a helper role, the meaning they ascribe to such a role and the benefits consequently gained. The study sample consisted of 28 Israeli and German care leavers, aged 18-26, who had begun, were about to begin or had already finished higher education. The results show various motivations for assuming a helper role e.g. socialization through early parental roles within biological families, modeling by significant others, and exposure to pro-social values and opportunities for volunteering within the care systems. The ways that these young people support others vary. Some volunteer within their communities, some support members of their family of origin, and others integrated the idea of supporting others into their career choice. According to these young people, assuming a helper role provided a strong sense of purpose in life and contributed to their self-efficacy, social connectedness and ability to cope with their adverse past. In particular, supporting others seems to reflect care leavers' wish to lead a normal life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Care leavers
  • Normality
  • Occupational choice
  • Resilience
  • Social support
  • Volunteering


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