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International Youth Exchange: Be the change!
Start date: Mar 1, 2016, End date: Nov 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

While young people, who live with their parents, often stay at home with their families until their mid-twenties or even longer, young people living in alternative care (residential or foster care) are usually asked or even forced to start their independent life much earlier (normally with reaching the age of majority) without the necessary support and generally less possibilities of formal education, social inclusion and integration into the labor market. In European countries and all over the world there is a lack of specific help for those who need it the most in their transition to an independent adulthood: young people leaving the care sector. Care leavers therefore are a vulnerable group with significant disadvantages regarding access to education and to employment and psycho-social difficulties.In the “International youth exchange: Be the change!” 50 young care leavers from 10 from Programme and Neighbouring Partner countries and maximum 10 care leavers from other countries/regions will come together to live, work, relax, exchange, dream and make plans on their future together and to work on international careleaving standards that guarantee care leavers equal access and opportunities in their transition to an independent life. The young adults are accompanied by group leaders from their countries. 6 facilitator from 6 different partner countries will work in smaller ‘home groups’ of 8-10 participants with the young adults. 3 professional therapists will accompany the youth exchange to give group and/or individual support and treatment to the young adults whenever needed.The youth exchange aims, among other objectives to - Give the young adults a positive impetus: they know better who they are, reflect and dream on their future and take home a plan of first concrete steps towards this future.- Promote (international) exchange of personal experiences and future perspectives of care leavers in transition to an independent life, that helps the young adults to understand their situation better, to discover that other young adults in different countries face similar problems, and to raise awareness and understanding of other cultures and countries. The exchange also provides the young adults with new ideas and possibilities for their individual life plan. - Promote the acquisition and development of key competences and skills that help the young adults in their transition to an independent and socially integrated life. - Create international standards for careleaving and dissemination/advocacy materials by and with participation of care leavers. The findings and proposals are incorporated in the international congress – 33rd FICE Congress and 2nd CYC World Conference: Together Towards a Better World for Children, Adolescents and Families - that takes place from 22nd to 25th August 2016 in Vienna and are further developed in a participative process together with other congress participants in a workshop prepared and hold by the young adults. Young adults, partner organisations and their networks will disseminate the outcomes and results of the youth exchange and advocate for the careleaving standards. The standards and advocacy materials created by the care leavers during the youth exchange will thus contribute to raise awareness on the need to provide specific measures for care leavers among organisations, civil society, policy makers and local, regional, national, European and international stakeholders and public authorities to guarantee them equal access and opportunities in the transition to an independent and socially integrated life.

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