An Exploration Of The Life Experiences And Well-Being Of Youth Who Have Aged Out Of Foster Care
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ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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Youth who age out of foster care are considered to be amongst the loneliest individuals in our society (CWLA, 2010). These youth are at high risk to for the life-long issues associated with disrupted attachment, loneliness, traumatic life events and poor social networks (Casey Family Programs, 2004). Finding permanent connections for youth and giving youth a voice in planning their future, may increase their participation in planning for their exit, diminish feelings of loneliness, mitigate adverse childhood experiences, enhance their self-esteem, and improve their self-efficacy and social well-being. This study explored the exposure to adverse childhood experiences, current feelings of loneliness and presence of social provisions for youth who age out of foster care. The study also explored the moderating effects of two interventions which foster care youth are engaged. There were 85 study participants; each participant completed a survey instrument measuring exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), Loneliness, Family Finding participation, Team Decision Making participation and Adolescent Well-Being (AWB). The results of the study reveal that in spite of exposure to multiple ACEs, study participants report average levels of AWB, and that Family Finding and Team Decision Making are not significant moderators or their experiences. Insights gleaned from this study will provide child welfare professionals with quantitative data regarding the youth's perception of their childhood experience and post foster care functioning. The findings from this study could prove beneficial as a launching pad for more in-depth research with this population, using the lessons learned herein to guide additional research.