ERIC Number: ED500597
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime: "Relational Permanence among Young Adults with Foster Care Backgrounds"
Samuels, Gina Miranda
Chapin Hall Center for Children
The phenomenon called "aging out" includes approximately 20,000 young people who enter adulthood directly from foster care each year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). The number of youth and young adults who aged out of care in the U.S. in 2005, the year for which the most current statistics are available, increased 48 percent since 1995. Internationally, growing attention is afforded to this population as research continues to indicate a startling range of risks to their adulthood success, including homelessness, poverty, incarceration, victimization, early pregnancy, and unemployment (Barth, 1990; Courtney, Dworsky, et al., 2005). The few studies that have specifically explored mental health and well-being likewise suggest that this population faces high risks to their socio-emotional wellness (Lawrence, Carlson, & Egeland, 2006; Pecora et al., 2005). Legislation under the Foster Care Independence Act (Pub. L. 106-169) and the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) (Pub. L. 106-169, Pub. L. 99-272) financially supports many existing efforts to create more successful adulthoods for this population. These programs, often called independent living or transitional living programs, typically focus on important skill building in the areas of education, finance, employment, hygiene/health, and housing (Propp, Ortega, & NewHeart, 2003). However, the field continues to struggle with developing other aspects of successful adulthoods for children formerly in foster care, most notably their socio-emotional well-being. By conducting a series of in-depth interviews with twenty-nine young adults participating in a program offering resources to help them make successful transitions to adulthood, this study identified a number of contextual and interpersonal factors that together sometimes challenged participants in forming and keeping close relationships. These included cycling in and out of foster homes, failed reunification efforts, and experiencing multiple caseworkers. Their foster care experiences, while effectively teaching them how to begin new relationships, did little to provide experiential opportunities to develop relational skills for sustaining or repairing relationships. The aim of this study was to explore their social support networks and examine how foster care might constrain or facilitate supportive relationships into adulthood. Network Map is appended. (Contains 8 footnotes, 3 figures, and 2 tables.) [This study was initiated and supported by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.]
Descriptors: Social Support Groups, Young Adults, Foster Care, Social Indicators, Well Being, Interviews, Opportunities, Participant Satisfaction, Caregiver Role, Role Perception, Transitional Programs, Helping Relationship, Network Analysis, Social Networks, Cognitive Mapping, Object Permanence, Etiology, Caregiver Child Relationship
Chapin Hall Center for Children. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-5900; Fax: 773-753-5940; Web site: http://www.chapinhall.org
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Chicago Univ., IL. Chapin Hall Center for Children.