National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

The first three years after foster care: A longitudinal look at the adaptation of 16 youth to emerging adulthood

Jones, L.
Journal Article
Year Published: 2011
Children and Youth Services Review 33 (2011) 1919-1929

In this study, 16 former foster youth were followed for 3 years to examine their adaptation to emerging adulthood. Youth were classified on their adaptation according to the concepts of Connectedness (engagement with the adult world through work, schooling, marriage, and parenthood) and Risks (problems with substance abuse, financial difficulties, and mental health problems that would hinder engagement with the adult world). All of the youth maintained at least one adult connection, but only six youth did not have a risk at the final interview. Three years after discharge 50 percent of the respondents had a drug and/or alcohol problem, and had neither savings nor health insurance. Despite many problems, the post-foster care period was marked by much resilience as most youth struggled to remain independent and continue their schooling. Factors that facilitated successful adaptations were a period of transitional residence after foster care, good support systems including family and former social workers, and a commitment to further education. Modified Author Abstract.

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