National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

One Adult Who Is Crazy About You: Can Natural Mentoring Relationships Increase Assets Among Young Adults With and Without Foster Care Experience?

Greeson, J. K. P.,
Usher, L.,
Grinstein-Weiss, M.
Journal Article
Year Published: 2010
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Social Work
Children and Youth Services Review, 32(4): 565-577, April 2010.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Predoctoral Fellowship T32-HD07376)

During emerging adulthood, most youth receive family support to help them weather the difficulties associated with transitioning to independence. When foster youth emancipate, they confront the challenges associated with emerging adulthood, and are at risk of having to transition without family support. Many are in danger of failing to meet minimal levels of self-sufficiency. A caring adult who offers social support is normative for adolescent development and protective for youth across many risk conditions. Natural mentoring can cultivate such relationships. This study examines the association between natural mentor relationship characteristics, and material hardship and asset-related outcomes during the emerging adulthood period in both a normative sample of young adults and young adults identified as former foster youth. This study also considers the potential mediating effect of future expectations. The authors use data from Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that pertain to 15,197 respondents, estimating path models with categorical dependent variables using a maximum likelihood method with standard errors that are robust to non-normality and non-independence of observations. "Like a parent", "role model", and "guidance/advice" were significantly associated with assets among both groups. The authors seek to highlight the value of increasing our understanding of natural mentor roles for intervention development by focusing on asset-related outcomes to investigate the benefits of natural mentoring to the healthy development of youth.

Correspondence to: Johanna K. P. Greeson, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 325 Pittsboro Street, CB #3550, Suite 400, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; Telephone: (919) 259- 1322, E-mail:, Website:
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