Abstract: Challenges in the Transition to Adulthood of Young-Adult Arabs Who Graduated from Residential Facilities (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Challenges in the Transition to Adulthood of Young-Adult Arabs Who Graduated from Residential Facilities

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Camelback B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Yafit Sulimani- Aidan, PhD, A professor at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Haneen Elias, PhD, Faculty member, Ruppin Academic Center, Israel
Background: Although the literature regarding care leavers’ challenges and outcomes in Israel is growing, research on Arab care leavers lags behind. Young-adult Arabs are part of a minority group facing social and economic marginalization, lower resources, and social discrimination and exclusion. The goal of this exploratory study was to delve into the challenges and barriers in the transition to adulthood of young-adult Arab care leavers, through their own perspectives. The aim was to broaden our understanding of their unique experiences, specifically in terms of their being part of a minority society in Israel.

Methods: The sample included 23 graduates of Arab residential facilities in Israel who had left care one to six years previously. The selection criteria were: youth in the early years of their emerging adulthood (i.e., ages 18-25) who had spent at least two years in a residential care settings. We also tried to include young adults who were in a variety of frameworks, such as those in school, those employed, and those unemployed. In addition, we chose young adults living in a variety of housing settings (e.g., living at home with their parents, living alone/with roommates). A semi-structured interview protocol was developed, consisting of open-ended questions.

A semi-structured interview protocol consisted of open-ended questions. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. The young adults were asked to describe themselves (background, occupation, age, etc.). They were also asked about their current life status and the challenges and barriers they faced in their daily lives and in trying to realize their goals Analysis included theoretical thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke 2006).

Results: Three major themes arose from the young adults’ descriptions. The first theme centered around “cultural and social expectations and limitations.” This major theme concerned the challenges that participants had in terms of being part of their community in light of its norms, and expected behaviors and duties within their family as a result of these norms. Also, this theme related to their self-perceptions as a minority group. The second theme concerned their “social ties” and included three subthemes: harmful and unsupportive family relationships, lack of formal and informal guidance, and loneliness. Finally, the last major theme related to their limited “personal capital” and included their family's and own economic hardship and educational gaps.

Conclusions and implications: The study's findings illustrate the role of cultural and sociopolitical aspects during this transition, and emphasize the unique additional challenges for Arab young adults as a result of their being part of a collectivist and patriarchal society as well as being part of a minority. The discussion addresses the connection between these multiple challenges in the context of emerging adulthood theory. Implications for practice include developing new services that take into consideration the young adults' needs, and designing interventions that allow for the strengthening of family ties, as well as the creation of positive and supportive relationships with formal and informal authority figures.