The Role Of Avoidant Attachment On College Persistence And Completion Among Youth In Foster Care.
Okpych, Nathanael J. Courtney, Mark E.
Published: July 2018
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 90 , p. 106-117
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Foster care youth graduate from college at rates far below their peers. Attention is now shifting to identifying modifiable risk factors that influence their chances of completing college. One explanation is that past traumatic experiences have an enduring impact on youths' psychosocial functioning, which in turn compromises their ability to succeed in college. This paper investigates avoidant attachment, which is characterized by emotional guardedness and reluctance to rely on others for support. Secondary analyses were conducted on data collected from a longitudinal study that followed several hundred foster youths in three Midwestern states for nearly 10 years. Information on college outcomes were obtained from National Student Clearinghouse records. Binary logistic regression analyses investigated whether avoidant attachment was associated with the odds that foster youth persisted in college and completed a degree. Results found that higher avoidant attachment decreased the odds of both college persistence and degree attainment after controlling for a wide range of potential confounders. The relationships between avoidant attachment and the college outcomes were mediated in part by the perceived amount of social support foster youth reported around the time they were in college. Addressing the psychosocial consequences of past maltreatment and relational instability may be an important component of interventions designed to increase college success for foster youth. This may require programs to develop strategies to recruit difficult-to-engage students, normalize help-seeking, address underlying trauma, and provide opportunities to develop connections to resourceful adults. (Author abstract)
foster adolescents; postsecondary education; attachment behavior; academic achievement; emotional problems; interpersonal relationships; risk factors; universities