African American Youths Who Age Out Of The Foster Care System: Constructing Factors Contributing To Their Enrollement And Progression In Post-Secondary Institutions
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Type of WorkText
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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Universities and colleges
School management and organization
Foster home care
Although the literature has examined the postsecondary educational status and experiences of youths who age out of foster care, there has been minimal exploration of the status and experiences of those who are African American. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of African Americans who aged out of the foster care system, and to describe the factors contributing to their decision to attend school and the strategies they used towards progression in school. The goal of the study was to gain an understanding of African American youths who aged out of care from a cultural viewpoint. Data were collected through in-depth interviews of 10 participants. The findings showed that participants wanted to attend a postsecondary institution to achieve academic success with the certainty that it would lead to broader successes in life. The desire to be successful was motivated by their past misfortunes before and during their time in foster care; experiencing these misfortunes influenced their desire to improve their circumstances through further education. The participants were also inspired by social and community supports that assisted them in matriculating in school. The strategies they employed were inspired by the lack of constant supports and the availability of resources upon aging out of care. The implications of these findings are important to social work practice on the micro and macro levels. On the micro level, they support an informative strengths-based practice with an empowerment emphasis, which involves culturally sensitive practices that are vital for providing services to African Americans aging out of foster care. Forming supportive networks among these African American youths is also essential for their success. On the macro level, consideration of culturally sensitive programs and practices defined in child welfare polices related to youths aging out of foster care is imperative for effective practice and successful outcomes. Social workers need to advocate with consideration of the unique societal challenges facing African Americans aging out of foster care.