“I Don't Know Where I Would Be Right Now If It Wasn't For Them”: Emancipated Foster Care Youth And Their Important Non-Parental Adults.
Duke, Taylor. Farruggia, Susan P. Germo, Gary R.
Published: May 2017
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 76 , p. 65-73
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Research has identified the benefits of having non-parental adults for older youth in foster care, but less is known about the characteristics of these relationships, as well as the processes that support the foster youth as they transition from care to independence. The present study included a diverse group of 99 young adults, who recently emancipated from care in a major U.S. city. These young adults reported having a very important non-parental adult (VIP) and 63 of these VIPs were also included in this study. The youth participated in a two-hour in-person interview followed by a survey, and the VIPs underwent a phone interview; all of these interviews were later transcribed and qualitatively coded using thematic analysis. Overall, this study aimed to: 1) identify the characteristics of these VIPs, and 2) elucidate how the VIPs support youth during the transition from care. Prominent characteristics of the youth and VIP relationship identified in this study include the relationship being “parent-like”, respectful, and reciprocal with regards to communication. Moreover, it was found that both the youth and the VIPs viewed these relationships to be important in reducing negative outcomes for the youth. These results call for the foster care system to take steps in helping foster care youth find and build relationships with the non-parental adults in their lives — VIPs can serve as important sources of support to aid foster youth in their adaptation to young adulthood. (Author abstract)
foster adolescents; interpersonal relationships; mentors; childs attitudes; independent living; independent living skills; foster care alumni; aging out