The Social and Vocational Integration of Former Users of the Child Protection System in Romania: A Qualitative Study
The social and vocational integration of vulnerable groups is an important aspect of social sustainability. Former users of the residential child protection system represent such a group. The purpose of our research was to investigate the social and vocational integration of individuals raised in the child protection system in Romania. Their experiences during and after their time in residential care are analyzed. The research sample was composed of 23 interviewees (18 male and 5 female) with
... average age of thirty-five at the time of the interview (SD = 7.49). Our research method was a qualitative one, based on a semi-structured interview. The results paint a generally bleak image of life in such institutions, both before the fall of communism in Romania in December 1989 and subsequently. In addition, the respondents' transition from institutional life to independent living was full of challenges. Nevertheless, most of the respondents have demonstrated a remarkable level of resilience, based on factors such as education, self-esteem, work, a life partner and the ability to acquire new skills. As a general conclusion, our study has shown that a sustainable social development plan should include social policies which strive for the de-institutionalization of the child protection system by preventing the separation of children from their biological families or, where necessary, by finding family-type solutions for children in difficulty. If institutional childcare is to continue, it must be accompanied by consistent efforts to prepare these children for their transition to independent living.