Exploring homelessness among young care leavers: Addressing challenges and finding potentials in a Nordic welfare context (HACL)

Care leavers are significantly over-represented among homeless young people. This is a tendency internationally as within the Nordic countries. However, the intersection between homelessness and care experience has been given little attention in research, including what challenges are faced, which support is needed and the experienced consequences of homelessness. Based on the limited knowledge, there is a need for qualitative curiosity-driven research in a Nordic context, as this has never been studied as a specific topic. This project sets to fill the gap and thus adds to Nordic added value in research by collaboration, knowledge-sharing and learning across the following included countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

The aim is to address the challenge of homelessness among young care leavers from a life course perspective and to advance the Nordic countries’ unique success in decreasing youth homelessness. The results of the project will focus on developing recommendations for social policy and practice to reduce care leavers’ homelessness. The overall hypothesis guiding the project is that the intersection between care leaving and homelessness is a phenomenon that must be understood and dealt with as situated not only in the present life of the individual young person but as also links to past social and biographical contexts.

The project involves four work packages. Two of these focus on young people’s experiences: Work package 1 is a systematic review of research on experiences of homelessness among young care leavers, and work package 2 explores the experiences of care leavers who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The other two work pages focus on the legislative context and social work practice concerning young people leaving care and their risk of being homeless: Work package 3 explores social policy and initiatives across the included countries, focusing on their similarities and differences, and work package 4 explores how social workers within child welfare services assess risk and needs in terms of homelessness when young people leave care.


Bodil Aurstad. Photo: NordForsk

Bodil Aurstad

Special Adviser