Most Israeli children who spend their youth away from their birth parents live in youth villages. The majority of these children come from either the geographical or social periphery of Israel. Since the 1990s the youth villages have specialized in absorbing immigrants mainly from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Ethiopia. The paper reports on a survey conducted among the professional staff in the youth villages. This study explores their perceptions of the readiness for independent living of adolescents on the verge of leaving youth villages and examines how readiness is associated with individual and familial characteristics. A structured questionnaire was mailed to youth villages asking professionals to anonymously complete the survey. The total sample include reports on 1256 adolescents who spent in the current setting on average 3.3 (SD = 1.8) years. For many of them this was the first out-of-home placement. Generally, workers have a favorable assessment of the youths' readiness for independent living. Still, they report that many of the youths do not have any of the necessary skills for independent living. Additionally, there are sub-groups that are more disadvantaged and at greater risk because they lack skills for a successful transition from care. The findings indicate that youth of Ethiopian origin are more disadvantaged with regard to skills related to school, the job market, finances, interpersonal relationships and normative behaviors, whereas youths from FSU present fewer skills pertaining to military service. The findings emphasize the important role Israeli youth villages have in supporting underprivileged adolescents in acquiring basic skills for adult life and suggest guidelines as to which sub-groups and in which area programs should be developed.
- Readiness for independent living
- Social support
- Youth villages