History of the Transitions Initiative Worldwide Network:
Worldwide, the United Nations Population Fund (2011) estimates that young people (aged 10-19) account for 1.2 billion people in our population. Of these young people, UNICEF (2009) estimates that over 155 million orphaned youth live in the world today. This figure includes both single- and double-orphans and those who are abandoned due to poverty and other causes of displacement such as emergencies, conflict, and natural disasters. Orphaned youth often reside in some form of temporary care: orphanages (government or private), kinship care, community care, or simply on their own. In many cases, youth living in these care placements simply “age out” between the ages of 15 and 18. Dependent upon the support they have been receiving, youth exit out the open door, forced to begin the transition to adulthood without the proper physical, psychological, or economic equipment.
While international research, beginning in the early 1980s, has done well to document the the short-term physical, cognitive, and emotional developmental effects of institutionalized children, there has been little research on the long-term effects of dependent care for youth who leave or age out, particularly in developing countries. As a result, in a joint report published UNAIDS, UNICEF, and USAID (2004), all called for further research and focus on this population. World Bank (2004) declared the following in concern with the growing adolescent population:
The problems facing older children (adolescents) have generally been overlooked, not only within the issues pertaining to orphan-hood, but more generally within the issues related to health and skills training. The proportion of adolescent orphans to total number of orphans appears very high in most countries, which suggests the need to address issues surrounding adolescents more thoroughly than in the past.
In response to the needs of this growing adolescent community, the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) has proposed the launch of the Transitions Initiative–a comprehensive support network for youth aging out of care. Initial research and assessment conducted in Cambodia and Ethiopia during the summer of 2010 and 2011, respectively, has confirmed to IOFA that this is a critical period for vulnerable youth around the world, which calls for the urgent and concentrated attention of our global efforts.
In order to address the complex needs of this population, IOFA established the Transitions Initiative Worldwide Network in an effort to bring together organizations, experts, and global partners from around the world in an online forum, designed to serve as a place to share and discuss best practices.
The mission of the Transitions Initiative Worldwide Network is to create a global space for the interactive exchange of current and on-going research and information regarding the transitional process of orphaned and vulnerable youth aging out of temporary care systems.