On the “transitional-aged youth” concept

Why should we think differently about “transitional-aged youth?”

There is a growing consensus amongst youth services practitioners and scholars that the line between youth and adulthood is more demarcated than it might be when it comes to the way our social welfare system is structured.  As scholars participating in the Network on Transitions to Adulthood posit, “it wasn’t that long ago that young people left home, finished their education, landed a job, and married and started a family, all by age 25—and often in that order. Today, it is more like 35 and it is rarely a straight path….why this path into adulthood has slowed and become more complicated is a major question.”

In coaxing an answer to this thorny question, the reasons for this shift range from those in the realms of culture and economics to the dark regions of adolescent brain science and rehabilitation research.  As a health and disability services researcher with a background in direct social work practice with children and youth, I became attuned to the often in-between status of what are now referred to as “transitional-aged youth.”  Although this term initially popped up with respect to youth aged 16-24 who were “aging out” of the foster care system, the implications of being in the transition from youth to adulthood certainly impact non-foster-care-involved youth as well.  The implications of recognizing differences between youth, transitional-aged youth and adults are significant when it comes to social welfare policy and programming.

So, what do YOU think about the transitional-aged youth concept?

This is the first post in a series exploring the social policy and human services needs of transitional-aged youth.  You can see the other two posts in this series by clicking hereStay tuned for commentary on adolescent brain development science as it relates to juvenile justice policy, the prevalence of intimate partner violence amongst transitional-aged women and suicidality amongst transitional-aged youth with disabilities, amongst other topics.