In many countries life outcomes of youth aging-out-of care are much lower compared with their same-age peers. Local contexts shape the differential outcomes for these youths. These contexts include the unique characteristics of each country's child welfare system and out-of-home placement, the different circumstances care leavers encounter in the larger society (e.g., employment opportunities), and how placements and the wider society change over the years (temporal context). The study explores these issues regarding educational residential facilities (ERF) in Israel, asking: How the population in ERF changes over the years? What are the educational outcomes of graduates compared with the control group and the larger society over the years?
This study is based on merging multiple administrative data bases of 15 consecutive cohorts of Israeli young adults (born 1982-1997) a total of 1,565,010. All 44,164 ERF graduates (graduation years 2000-2015) were the research group. Using Propensity Score Matching (PSM) we constructed a comparison group based on background data, separately for each cohort. This created a high degree of ‘covariate balance’ between the ERF graduates and the comparison groups. Merged data bases included child and family background, education, employment, income, criminal involvement, and welfare dependency (of participants and their children). The current presentation focuses on educational achievements.
Youth in ERF were different from the larger population in terms of their parent's higher welfare involvement, more criminal activity, and higher proportion of immigrants. Over the years, the ERF population changed. Most noticeable change was the reduction in the immigrant participants in residential placements. In terms of educational outcomes, there was a significant increase in rates of success in high school matriculation tests and college attending in the Israeli society and in ERFs. The magnitude of change in these outcomes was significantly larger for graduates of the educational residential facilities. Nonetheless, although the numbers of ERF graduates completing matriculation exams has increased (e.g., from 83.4% in 2000 to 95.2% in 2012), their achievements in these exams are consistently below the population average. Relatedly, while more graduates enter higher education, they tend to attend colleges with lower academic demands, rather than more competitive universities, compared with the general population. Overall, the findings indicate that ERF graduates achieve better outcomes compared with the matched control group but significantly worse outcomes compared with the general population in their cohort.
The findings indicate that ERFs were able to improve their educational outcomes over the years, in a faster pace than the Israeli society at large. They were also able to surpass the outcomes of similar youth, not in facilities. Nonetheless, there remain significant gaps from the general population in terms of the quality of qualifications and of higher education institutions. This trend should encourage ERFs to continue and 'raise the bar', and present higher expectations, to better compete in today's economy. The high gain-for-investment in improving educational outcomes should encourage the government and corporations to invest in improving the educational outcomes in ERFs.