MONTREAL - When young people leave the youth protection system at age 18, it causes quite a lot of instability in their lives, including residential instability, a new study confirms.

Released at a news conference in Montreal on Tuesday, the longitudinal study on the future of young people placed in youth protection in Quebec shows that 13 months after leaving placement, a third were facing housing instability.

Moreover, 20 per cent of them reported experiencing homelessness after leaving the system.

"We don't necessarily have the skills or the resources to be able to be autonomous or fend for ourselves once we are cut out of the program at 18 years of age," explained Marcelle Partouche, on the study's youth committee. Partouche herself experienced bouts of homelessness when she came of age after years in foster care.  

This issue of lack of support for young people after the age of 18 has been raised several times at the Laurent Commission into youth protection.

Accustomed to a certain environment, these young people find themselves too often without support, or with inadequate support, to find housing, employment, further education, and other day-to-day activities.

"We've known for a long time that a lot of our youth actually come from youth protection or went through youth protection at one point in time. They are also the youth with the most difficulties and will take more time to get off the street," said Cecile Arbaud, director of Dans la Rue.

Many struggle because of a lack of education, employment or accessing healthcare, said Arbaud, adding that most lack guidance. 

"We talk about life skills, et cetera, but for me it's only the tip of the iceberg. It really a matter of relationships, of connecting with the community having someone you can talk to," she said. 

Partouche is calling on the province to do more to help youth prepare for leaving the system. 

"It's also very unrealistic that because you've turned 18, that automatically you know all of the things to be able to be an adult," she said.

Cecile Arbaud, director of Dans la Rue--a charity that works with homeless youths--,said the problem extended even further. 

"We talk about life skills etc but for me it's only the tip of the iceberg. It's really a matter of relationships, of connecting with the community, having someone you can talk to."

- With files from CTV News Montreal's Angela MacKenzie