There are two high level purposes for the Ngā Haerenga research project. These are to:
- Hear rangatahi voices and to explore and document rangatahi experiences and journey’s out of statutory care and/or custody into self-determined adulthood.
- Build our understanding of:
a) what rangatahi are thinking about as they prepare to leave care, including their aspirations, intentions, and perceived needs.
b) the trajectories following exit, including actions, experiences (including successes, trials and tribulations) and outcomes across key domains (including rangatahi, Transition Support Service and Youth Justice priority areas).
Key points on methodology:
- Longitudinal Qualitative Research (LQR) methodology is the underlying methodology used in this study. This involves annual in-depth interviews with rangatahi, starting at 1-6 months before leaving care.
- Whakaaro Māori informs the LQR at each step through incorporation of te ao Māori values, tikanga, mahi-a-rongo sensitivities and Kaupapa Māori methodologies.
- The joint Oranga Tamariki – Insights MSD ethics review panel approved this project in February 2020.
Phase One Fieldwork
- During the period 1 July – 30 September 2020, 44 rangatahi (of 126 eligible participants) agreed to participate in the study. Each young person (one third with caregivers or members of their whanau) was subsequently interviewed face to face, with interviews lasting 30 minutes - 1 hour.
- Three regionally based research teams or rōpū helped to recruit and interviewed the rangatahi; (i) the Waikato rōpū – covering the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Regions, (ii) the Pōneke rōpū – covering Wellington, Kāpiti, Horowhenua, Manawatū and Wairarapa regions and (iii) the Ōtautahi rōpū – covering the Greater Canterbury region and Northern Otago.
- Each region developed their own semi-structured interview guides, using a shared interview framework. Interviews were recorded and subsequently transcribed, coded in Nvivo and summarised by the regional rōpū.
- In December 2020 the three regional research teams came together to identify pan regional themes and to develop a shared Nvivo coding framework.
- Interviews were coded regionally, then integrated into a single integrated data file for secondary analysis. This focussed on checking coding accuracy, identifying further emergent themes and reviewing the sensemaking hui analyses.
- The stage two secondary analysis was shared and checked with the wider research team at follow up hui in early 2021, before report writing began.
Securing a safe, stable place to live was a top priority for most rangatahi. Being in work, training or education was similarly very important, as was connecting with others such as whānau, former caregivers, friends and community or support organisations.
Rangatahi were asked what factors they thought would help them to achieve their goals. Across the interviews, three broad success factors were commonly talked about:
- Personal strengths such as being determined, resilient and self-reliant, likeable and having good social skills.
- Good connections with whānau, current and past caregivers, and various support networks (including Oranga Tamariki’s Transition Support Service) – as well as, for some rangatahi Māori, connections with culture and cultural identity.
- Security and certainty, including sufficient income and food, stable housing and access to reliable transport.
Rangatahi in custody also valued the support and therapeutic, cultural and educational elements of the youth justice residences.
Barriers to success were more often talked about than enablers, and there was a wider range. These included:
- Financial insecurity and uncertainty about the future
- Personal barriers, including tendencies to withdraw or switch off when stressed or bored
- Health, disability, mental health and addiction issues
- Challenging friends and whānau, such as “bad influences”
- Bias and prejudice
- Cultural alienation and disconnection from whānau, hapū, iwi and hapori
- Not understanding entitlements and limited access to services.
Rangatahi identified a number of support needs for their transition journey. Rangatahi said they wanted:
- Easier access to stable housing and more security regarding income and financial support
- More choice and better access to effective mental health services
- Improved engagement from Social Workers and Transition Workers
- Improved understanding of entitlements, and support for accessing services
- Ongoing opportunities for engagement, support and services post YJ residential care
- Ongoing, early support for connecting and reconnecting to Māori culture
- Support for moving into work, education or training
- Better information and more responsive support for rangatahi with an intellectual disability.