The continuum of care: using an independent living program as an intervention for a better quality of life among foster youth aging out of alternative care

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer Miller (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Bruce Henderson

Abstract: With thousands of foster youth being emancipated from the child welfare system each year, attention to how to better the overall quality of life in these individuals is greatly needed. Individuals who age out of alternative care are often emancipated with little to no education, no job skills, little to no money, nowhere to live, and no independent living skills. They can quickly become subjected to a number of negative life events across many domains. Extended care and training is needed to help these individuals better prepare for independent life. Through the Foster Care Independence Act, many states have been implementing independent living programs to better serve individuals who are entering adulthood. The current study examined how the use of an independent living program through a children’s home in Western North Carolina aided in helping former foster youth achieve better outcomes in life. Factors examined include, education, life satisfaction, and stress coping abilities. The current study also examined the individuals’ attitudes and motivations towards the program. A self-designed Aftercare Survey was used to assess educational outcomes. Compared to national foster care statistics, it was found that individuals who enroll in the Independent Living Program are far more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college. However, these individuals were no more likely to graduate from college. Individuals who were currently in the program were hopeful to graduate from college and live a successful life. They were also very motivated by the home and felt like the Independent Living Program was the best option for their transition into adulthood. The Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale were used to assess life satisfaction and stress coping abilities. Current residents were found to have life satisfaction and stress coping abilities that were comparable to the general population. This study shows the need for further research on Independent Living Programs and the need to enact more programs similar to the one at the Black Mountain Home for Children.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Alternative Care, Child Welfare, Foster Care, Independent Living Program, Residential Care
Foster children -- Rehabilitation -- North Carolina, Western
Foster children -- Deinstitutionalization -- North Carolina, Western
Foster children -- Vocational guidance -- North Carolina, Western
Foster children -- Education (Secondary) -- North Carolina, Western
Youth -- Services for -- North Carolina -- Black Mountain

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